Meet your Mad Scientist - Professor Natalie Thamwattana
- What is your current position, and what do you do?
I am a professor in applied mathematics. I teach mathematics to university students. The course that I like teaching most is “Mathematical Modelling” where we (students and I) get to use mathematics to model real-world problems. I also do research where I use mathematics to help understand the physical phenomena that occur in science, engineering and technology. My current research interest lies in modelling problems in nanotechnology. I am particularly interested in the applications of nanomaterials (very tiny materials with a length scale thousand times smaller than the diameter of your hair!) in the development of many modern devices, including carriers for targeted drug delivery, molecular sensors and energy storage system.
- What interests did you have growing up?
I like studying science, especially biology, chemistry and mathematics, so I chose to do a Bachelor of Science. When it came to choose a major, I picked mathematics because I liked the idea of working in a computer lab more than experimenting in a wet-lab (where I could be dealing with chemical substances or cutting frogs open!). However, it is good that I did not throw away my interest in biology and chemistry because in my research now I get to do maths that is related to many problems in biology, medicine and chemistry. Mathematics is important in providing understanding for the underlying processes in science, engineering, technology, business and many other disciplines.
- Would you recommend pursuing a career in the sciences?
I would recommend everyone to follow their dream! If science is what you love, then surely pursue a career in science. In particular, mathematics can help to open the door to many career opportunities. The skills gained from studying maths (e.g. analytical thinking and computing skills) are in high demand in many sectors, such as industry, finance, government and education. In addition, a career in mathematics and in sciences is always interesting; you never know what you will discover tomorrow!
- What advice would you give to kids who are interested in the sciences?Follow your passion, trust in your strength and work hard with determination. Heed this, and you will succeed!
Professor Natalie Thamwattana completed a science degree with First-Class Honours in Mathematics at Mahidol University in Bangkok, and completed her PhD at the University of Wollongong.She is now a professor in applied mathematics.
Natalie’s impact to the applied mathematics discipline is evidenced by the award of the 2014 Australian and New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics’ the JH Michell Medal as the outstanding researcher for the year and the 2014 University of Wollongong’s Vice Chancellor Emerging Researchers Excellence Award.
Natalie’s achievement was profiled in the 2016 University of Wollongong’s Women of Impact, an initiative to acknowledge important contributions to research and teaching by women academics across all levels and disciplines.
In 2019, Natalie was selected to be featured in an upcoming exhibit displaying 16 Australian Women of Mathematics – an Australian version of a well-known exhibit "Women of Mathematics throughout Europe: a gallery of portraits". These awards and recognition are evidences of the quality of her research in Applied Mathematics and her national and international standing.
The excellence of Natalie’s contribution is also demonstrated by the high quality of her research, as shown by her research publications in high-quality fully-refereed international journals including a good number of articles are published in topmost journals, such as the Proceedings of the Royal Society.