Dr Alex Newcombe on achieving the V-C award for Doctoral Thesis Excellence

College of Science and Engineering

Thesis ‘An Efficient Heuristic for Crossing Minimisation and it’s Applications’

Here sharing with you his experience and inspirations;

It is great to be recognised at the University level. I particularly like that it highlights the efforts of my supervisors and the small group of mathematicians at Flinders – they really are excellent.
For me personally, this is the encouragement to keep researching and maybe one day I can translate it into a mathematics award.

I had the most fun spending time researching together with my Supervisors. In mathematics, you do not have a big machine or experiment sitting in-front of you.
It is a group of people huddled around a whiteboard discussing their ideas. These times were/are the most fun for me.

I can give some advice to potential mathematicians: try to be humble about your expectations.
There are probably people who have spent their entire lives thinking about your field of research.
As great as it would be to solve a big open problem from your area, it is definitely not something that is expected of you.

Prof. Jerzy Filar used to lead a group of Mathematicians here at Flinders called the Flinders Hamiltonian Cycle Project.
They were greatly respected researchers and collaborators in their field. The group welcomed me during my Honours and suggested that I stay and do a PhD.
Partway through my PhD, Prof. Filar left Flinders to go to the University of Queensland, but the other members, Dr. Michael Haythorpe and A/Prof. Vladimir Ejov, kindly took over my supervision.

I am a lecturer here at Flinders, currently teaching Maths 1B and Optimisation (4th-year maths topic).

There is an open conjecture, named after the work of John Conway, called The Thrackle Conjecture.
One dream of mine is to resolve this conjecture and I continue to work on it in-between teaching duties.
Sadly, John Conway recently passed away. He was a giant from my field and one of the greatest minds from recent years.

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