Meet the Speaker: Associate Professor Peter Kim

Associate Professor Peter Kim

The University of Sydney

We catch up with Associate Professor Peter Kim to give us an insight into the big questions facing researchers in mathematical modelling.

What are the most interesting “big questions” or challenges facing researchers in your area?

I think that mathematically modelling social interactions will be a big new frontier in mathematical modelling. In addition, I think that combining ideas from financial mathematics with evolutionary modelling has potential to advance evolutionary modelling and bring it to a new level of sophistication.

What are your favourite applications of your work?

Lately, I’ve enjoyed the application of mathematical modelling to questions in human evolution. Mathematics forces us to be specific about previously verbal arguments and hypotheses. Also, mathematically modelling social interactions and social cohorts has added a new dimension to modelling for me, which has required creative and innovative thinking.

What are some other areas of your field that are particularly interesting to you?

I find trying to understand immune dynamics fascinating. The immune system is in many ways like a huge, diverse social system. After all, it is a mostly decentralised system consisting of myriad cells and diverse immune organs, such as lymph nodes. It is a mystery to understand more about how it works and how it responds to the environment.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

I think that perseverance and the braveness to try random ideas helps a lot in research, at least in mathematical biology. After one gets into a research program and obtains a scholarship, I think that these traits even take precedence over one’s marks. So don’t worry too much about having what you think are “weak marks” or a “weak” technical background.

Associate Professor Kim is delivering the PDE Models and Methods in Mathematical Biology topic with Dr Justin Tzou at the 2019 Summer School.

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