Jamie Phillips - graduate profile

PhD Research Student

"Throughout my time at school, mathematics always held a special interest for me. The beauty and complexity of the subject both challenged and enthralled me, so when it came time to submit applications for university, there was never any question in my mind as to which course I would pursue. The question of where to study however required a great deal more consideration.

I visited many universities, attended countless open days and finally settled on the University of Plymouth. During my search I had visited some of the best universities in the country but out of all of them, Plymouth made me feel the most at home. It’s a welcoming city with a vibrant community and relaxing atmosphere. Being so near to the coast, there are plenty of places to explore and the great transport links make it easy to escape home for the weekend. I chose to study BSc (Hons) Mathematics because the degree gave me the flexibility to take courses in pure maths, applied maths, and statistics. At the time I was unsure which area of mathematics I wanted to pursue, so this gave me the chance to study a range subjects across the entire spectrum. I took courses in topology, physics, mathematical modelling, and statistical inference amongst others and eventually discovered that my particular passion lay in algebra.

After graduating, I chose to move to Manchester to study for an MSc in Pure Mathematics and then begin work on my PhD, also in Manchester. My research is entitled “Group Geometries and Sporadic Simple Groups” and is primarily focussed at exploring the curious behaviour of some complex algebraic objects. My motivation for moving into the field of finite group theory was inspired by my MSc and the pure mathematics modules I studied during my second and third years in Plymouth. In addition, the computational mathematics modules I took in Plymouth have been invaluable in preparing me for the computational aspects of my research.

As well as undertaking doctoral research, I am also heavily involved in outreach activities. I volunteer as a STEM Ambassador with the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry and take part in various events with the university and surrounding institutions. Communicating mathematics and scientific research to school pupils and the wider public community is not always an easy task but it strikes me as particularly important in inspiring future researchers. During my time in Plymouth I had the opportunity to get involved in mathematics outreach and work as a Student Ambassador. This enabled me to gain the communication and interpersonal skills which have been vital to my work on these various outreach projects.

My time in Plymouth was happy and fulfilling. The university prepared me for future study by giving me a range of tools, knowledge and experience, as well as providing me with opportunities for personal and professional development. The people I met along the way and the fun times we shared have left me with many fond memories and lifelong friendships. Choosing to study in Plymouth ranks among the best decisions I have made."