Alexis Kirke - BSc (Hons) Mathematics graduate with two PhDs

Alexis Kirke studied BSc (Hons) Mathematics and completed a PhD in Computing, Communications and Electronics, and a PhD in Performing Arts.

Current employer: Plymouth University

Current job title: Research Fellow in Computer Music

Current location: Plymouth

“Plymouth University has an open and enterprising environment that rewards innovation and hard work.”

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

After graduating from my maths degree, I got a studentship to do a PhD. I then joined the graduate training scheme in London for Instinet, a brokerage run by Reuters, as an analyst programmer for 12 months. I was then moved to their Manhattan office to work as a Quantitative Analyst, helping traders analyse trades as large as $0.5B.

After 12 months I was offered a post in a start-up doing speech recognition and joined them, getting stock options. After a couple of years I was promoted to office manager and research and development manager. The company had initial success but failed to grow, and I was made redundant after four years. One of the company’s clients – Invensys – recruited me as a R&D Manager where I worked for three years on cutting-edge computer sound recognition systems with British Gas. During this time I realised I wanted to fulfil my lifelong dream of doing more artistic work. I obtained another studentship from Plymouth University to do a PhD in Computer Music.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Going to performances of my musical work at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco organised by Stanford, and at the Mansion House in the City of London organised by Barclays Bank. The San Francisco performance was of the piece Cloud Chamber (for violin and subatomic particles), whose original creation was funded by the Roland Levinsky Memorial Fund.

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Get involved, start by doing it for free, do projects you have to finish, be open to collaboration, promote yourself, at some point start getting paid, play your cards right.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

Plymouth University has an open and enterprising environment that rewards innovation and hard work. It’s such a great environment for learning and having fun.

Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?

You can achieve much more than you think you can: take risks, don’t be afraid to look stupid, don’t let anyone tell you “it doesn’t sound practical”. Innovation is, by definition, about doing things most people won’t or can’t.

Inspired by this story?

For more information about studying mathematics, please visit our BSc (Hons) Mathematics course page. For more information about our range of courses within the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics, please visit the school page.

Want to find similar alumni?

If you would like to find out what other relevant alumni from the Faculty of Science and Engineering are currently doing, please visit the computing and mathematical sciences interest area.