New Scholarship Honours Mother of Centre Researcher

The QUT School of Mathematics unveils a new scholarship to open doors for women to new and exciting research opportunities in the mathematical sciences.

The family of Wu Tsai-Hsiu-Chu donated $100,000 to QUT to set up the scholarships in her honour. Wu Tsai-Hsiu-Chu is the mother of Dr Paul Wu, a Senior Lecturer in Statistical Sciences at QUT and leader of the QUT Centre for Data Science’s newly created Sports Systems Domain.

“She loved mathematics and even taught it in her home country of Taiwan,” says Dr Wu.

Wu Tsai-Hsiu-Chu was born in 1951 in Penghu, Taiwan, to a low-income family of 10 children in a fishing village on a remote island. Her performance on a university entrance exam led to her getting a government scholarship to Taiwan’s top university for educators. After that, she taught university mathematics. The family moved to Australia in 1990 when Paul was just six.

The scholarships in her honour aim to help women take part in QUT’s Vacation Research Experience Scheme (VRES).

“The scholarships give these young women a taste of higher degree research. It’s a great way to get experience,” says Dr Wu.

For the next 20 years, the gift will allow for three annual scholarships. One will be a top-up scholarship worth $1,000 for the top-ranked female maths student who successfully received an existing VRES Scholarship. Two additional VRES Scholarships, valued at $2,000 each, will be awarded to any two females who are still eligible after the AMSI and faculty scholarships have been awarded.

“The Vacation research program designed for our undergraduate students to experience the cutting edge applied mathematics and statistics research being undertaken by our academics at QUT.  Our school is very pleased to be able to support the donor’s wish to help foster the STEM careers of three talented young women mathematicians,” says Prof Tony Roberts, Head of QUT’s School of Mathematics.

The school recently awarded the first three scholarships:

  • Nina Hadzivukovic, VRES full scholarship for her project, “Contact line dynamics and healing liquid films.”
  • Dana Pavey, VRES full scholarship for her project, “Explainability of Machine Learning Methods.”
  • Geneva Birtles, Top-ranked female VRES top-up scholarship for her project, “Using mathematics to understand multiple sclerosis: what causes the immune system to attack the brain?”

“I wish my mother could’ve been here with us to see this. But I know she’d be proud,” says Dr Wu.

After moving to Australia, Dr Wu says his mother continued to be a passionate advocate for career women and others looking to further themselves, despite numerous health setbacks.

“She not only donated frequently but also worked in a variety of volunteer capacities to help others,” says Dr Wu.

Dr Wu says he is looking forward to seeing his mother’s legacy grow through the women who will now benefit from the scholarships honouring her.

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