Interview with a postgrad: Rose Crocker

Undergrad: Concurrent degrees in Bachelor of Science (Advanced) and Bachelor of Maths and Comp. Sci.
Current area of study: Masters in Applied Maths 

Why did you choose to do this degree/a degree in STEM?

I began my degree in chemistry because it was one of my favourite subjects in year 12 (along with English). I had a great chemistry teacher who suggested I study science further, something I hadn’t really considered doing until then. Studying science was very different from what my parents had done (they both did their postgrad in arts) and I thought it would be exciting to pursue a subject completely unrelated to their fields. After doing first year maths at uni I also fell in love with maths, a subject I hadn’t really liked in high school. I enjoyed it so much that when it came to the end of my second year I decided to start another degree so I could do more maths than just a major in my science degree. I didn’t always know I wanted to study in STEM but I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to.

Can you please describe the research you’re working on?

My research investigates large scale structures in fluids, such as hurricanes, oceanic eddies and tidal rips. These structures are called Lagrangian Coherent Structures by mathematicians, and they carry important information about geophysical systems like the climate, oceans and atmosphere. I am attempting to develop methods of making predictions about geophysical systems, like the atmosphere, which optimally utilise the information captured in these structures. The aim is to develop methods with improved accuracy and performance, particularly in highly chaotic, turbulent systems.

What do you love about your current studies/research?

I love how varied the applications of my studies are, both in chemistry and applied maths.  Throughout my degrees I’ve been able to learn about topics as diverse as the quantum mechanics of solar cells, the geometry of Jupiter’s great red spot and Twitter’s social dynamics.  This diversity has meant I’ve always been challenged to learn about areas of research I never may have considered otherwise.  

I have also loved the support and encouragement I have experienced in my studies. I have been fortunate to meet many amazing future scientists and mathematicians who have helped me learn through sharing their unique perspective on study and life.

Who is your woman in STEM hero/(or non-STEM role model) and why?

I wouldn’t say I have a single role model but I’ve always admired Jane Goodall and Rachael Carson. Both of these women did research that was not easily received in their fields and had to face enormous adversity to be successful. They also both made positive social change while producing ground breaking science. Outside of STEM, I also really admire New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern. She is such a positive role model for women in the challenging field of politics, and she has built her career without betraying her beliefs.

Is there anything you wish other people knew about your field?

I wish other people knew how diverse and interesting the people I study with are. There is no ‘science type’ or ‘maths type’ and I think that having a variety of backgrounds, perspectives and ways of thinking is so important for the future of STEM. When I began my degrees I didn’t think I was the right type of person to study a STEM degree, but now I know I was believing in a stereotype that shouldn’t exist. 

What’s your career plan after study?

 After I finish my Master’s in Applied Maths I’d like to try working for a research institute like the Bureau of Meteorology or an Oceanic or Atmospheric research centre somewhere internationally. My research project for my Masters has been in climate and geophysical modelling and I would like to stay in this area because I love learning about how the large scale systems of the Earth work.  I may do a PhD but I’d like to get some experience working first.

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