I grew up with the doubts about my ability to do maths as a girl by hearing the voices from people around me. They said boys had an advantage and better chance to excel, I was then determined to prove them wrong. I studied hard and struggled with it a lot of the times, but I didn’t give it up. After I made it to university, I found that what they taught at tertiary level was very different from schools, and it was way more attractive to me and changed my perspectives of mathematics. However, subconsciously I am still unsure about my ability. Things started to change when I met my supervisors.

I did not expect that I could enjoy a maths research project that much when I applied last year. It is such a pleasant surprise with very special meaning to me personally and professionally, as it doesn’t just provide me with an opportunity to try out research on something new and fascinating, but also makes me realise what kind of things worth of pursuing in my lifetime.

At the start of the project, I was a bit nervous that I could disappoint my supervisors, like what if I could not come out with the proof? Would they get frustrated with me not having a strong enough background? Thanks to their continuing support and patient guidance, I started to grow more confidence as I knew I could always learn more background knowledge along the way, and my supervisors would be there to support me when I was in need. I started to discover my interest in theoretical probability and the flexibility of research lifestyle. What’s more, I learnt that research was a creative process and it required good food and environment!

Another valuable takeaway from this project was the presentation part. I had little by little grown and developed my public speaking skills and attitude. I was taught that the ability to promote and share the things on which you had dedicated your time was equally important as the work itself. From the networking event of other student presenters, I heard they really appreciated my work and found it interesting, which was a huge recognition to me for sure.

Jiayu Li
Monash University

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