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Mentoring at ACEMS during 2020

ACEMS defines mentoring as a process that involves a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helping to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person in their learning and development to formulate and achieve their goals. Our mentoring programs occur on an ongoing basis and may have either a formal or informal structure

ACEMS facilitates a range of mentoring activities for its members, through individual meetings, cross-node visits, online forums, workshops and conferences, and Centre-scale retreats.

The more formal ACEMS Mentoring Programme of activities continued successfully in 2020, though mostly virtually instead of in person.

One-on-one mentoring relationships

For the formal one-on-one component of the programme, 26 members participated in the next round of mentoring match-ups, all but two match-ups were also cross-nodal. Once again, we asked our members via a survey what they thought of the initiative. The response rate was 5/26 and whilst it was not as high as we would like, four of the five respondees agreed that the programme was a success, with all respondees wishing to continue with their current mentoring arrangement.

Sevvandi Kandanaarachchi

Associate Investigator Sevvandi Kandanaarachchi (RMIT)

Kate [Helmstedt] is wonderful because she has helped me improve my confidence, telling me I can do it. Kate is very generous, honest and she explained a lot about grants, and how to write a story for grants. She is also showing me how to market myself in the research world. These are really important things I hadn’t really thought about before. Only because of ACEMS, I was able to connect with someone like Kate who is at a different university.

Sevvandi Kandanaarachchi

Owen Forbes

Masters Student Owen Forbes (QUT)

Rob has helped me think about options for my early career trajectory, connected me with his contacts and ex-students to learn about the paths they have taken, and has helped me understand his own experiences in academia and working with industry. His open and honest perspectives have helped me to clarify and reshape my ideas about what I want out of my work life moving forward.

Owen Forbes

Rob Hyndman

Chief Investigator Rob Hyndman (Monash)

It was a pleasure to chat to Owen about his career plans and his research goals. It's great to see a new generation of researchers looking to make a positive impact through their work.”

Rob Hyndman

Mentoring podcasts

Episode 44: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

When it comes to the number of women in mathematics, the numbers are low. In this episode, we explore why that is, the role women are being asked to play in making that change, and why many women are battling imposter syndrome.

Episode 43: Maths & the Power of Perseverance

Have you heard someone say they weren't good at maths or hated it at school? Is there such a thing as a 'maths person'? What does a mathematician do?

In this episode, we make the case for maths, why it's important students not give up on it too soon and, more importantly, why they should do as much as they can.

Episode 37: Why Study Maths & Stats?

We sit down with four university students from around Australia who are studying maths and stats. When did they realise they wanted to study the mathematical sciences? The four students are at various stages of their academic journey. What has it been like so far? And do they think they’ve made the right choice and why?

Our hope with this episode is to maybe get some young people to think about maths and stats as a field of study, or at least something to think about.

The complete list and details of seasons three and four of The Random Sample.

Mentoring seminars and workshops

ACEMS continued the ACEMS seminar series throughout 2020. Once again there was a mix of technical ‘how to’ workshops as well as mentoring-focused professional and career development seminars and workshops.

Normally delivered at a variety of nodes and streamed live, many of the sessions were conducted virtually as webinars instead but the opportunity for Q&A often generated some great discussions.


Topic Presenter(s) Type
Recent advances in subsampling MCMC Matias Quiroz (UTS) Technical talk
Network Tomograph of How I learned to stop worrying and love traffic matrices Matt Roughan (UoA) Technical talk
Advantages of an industrial internship during the journey of a PhD program Puwasala Gamakumara (Monash) and Caitlyn Gray (UoA) Technical talk
Everything that you ever wanted to know about random matrices (but were afraid to ask) Jesper Ipsen (UniMelb) Technical talk
ACEMS Health and Wellbeing Session Kerrie Mengersen (QUT), Louise Ryan (UTS) and Ian Turner (QUT) E+D workshop
Life outside University Emma Lawrence (CSIRO’s Data61),  Sybille McKeown (ABS) and Burton Wu (BOQ) E+D seminar
Career Advice – Drop-in Session Q&A Louise Ryan (UTS) and Peter Taylor (UniMelb) E+D seminar
Teaching Culture = Deep Learning Christopher Matthews, Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mathematics Alliance and Associate Dean (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement), Science Faculty, UTS E+D seminar