School Produces Bumper Crop of Maths Boffins
Five students in the Disciplines of Pure and Applied Mathematics within the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science graduated with summa cum laude BSc Honours degrees.
The graduates were Mr Byron Brassel, Ms Cara Govender, Ms Ejaba Mustafa, Ms Heather Prince and Ms Cerene Rathilall.
Brassel worked in the field of relativistic astrophysics, which basically entails solving a system of highly nonlinear differential equations known as the Einstein field equations. The honours project involved solving these equations to model the physics of the inside of a star or star-like object in space time.
‘The study of mathematics is an art form which requires care, subtlety, sometimes immense intensity and always, imagination,’ said Brassel, who is now undertaking his Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics working in Relativity and Cosmology, supervised by Dr Gabriel Govender.
Cara Govender was supervised in her honours project by Dr Rituparno Goswami in the area of Relativity and Cosmology. ‘She studied the gravitational collapse of a homogeneous spherical star to a Black Hole end state. She investigated the formation of trapped surfaces and horizons in the process of collapse. She also studied the matching of interior stellar space time to an exterior static Schwarzschild geometry.’
Mustafa is currently a Masters student in Applied Mathematics working on Noether’s Theorem in General Realtivity. She is being supervised by NRF-Department of Science and Technology Chair in Gravitating Systems, Professor Sunil Maharaj, and Dean and Head of the School of Mathematics, Statistics and Computer Science, Professor Kesh Govinder.
Prince’s honours research was on gravitational lensing of the cosmic microwave background. The research focussed on finding real-space estimators for CMB temperature and polarisation lensing reconstructions, as an alternative to the harmonic space estimators currently in use. ‘I really enjoyed working on my honours project. It was challenging at times but the learning experience was invaluable’. Prince is currently a Masters student in Applied Mathematics working on a topic in Observational Cosmology. She is being supervised by Professor Kavilan Moodley.
Rathilal’s research focused on the Triangulation of Compact Surfaces. Triangulations are fundamental tools in understanding the topology of surfaces. Rathilall was able to show that compact surfaces are indeed triangulable, by appealing to classical graph theoretic results such as the Jordan Curve and Jordan Schonflies theorem.
‘It was an enjoyable yet extremely challenging year. For the first time as a student you are exposed to research methodology and are faced with the responsibility of presenting your honours project,’ said Rathilall, who acknowledged her two exceptional role models, Professor Dharms Baboolal and Professor James Raftery.
Rathilall is now a Masters student in Pure Mathematics working in the area of Topology, dealing with the theory of Hyperspaces, supervised by Dr Paranjothi Pillay.
Said Professor Govinder: ‘It is a great testament to these graduates that they have obtained their honours degrees with the highest award possible. As mathematicians, they have been trained in problem solving and are perfectly equipped to work on a variety of problems in diverse areas.
‘We are especially pleased to have produced an Honours graduate in Pure Mathematics. This is perhaps the most difficult field to work in and to have achieved such an outstanding pass is commendable. We could not be prouder of these graduates.’
- Leena Rajpal