PhD Graduate Spotlight: Dr Jesse Sharp

Jesse (left) with Dr Alex Browning, Prof Mat Simpson, & Dr Ryan Murphy

Dr Jesse Sharp is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Centre for Data Science at QUT. Jesse recently graduated from QUT with his PhD. He shared his journey with us in this conversation:

How did you come to do a PhD at QUT?

I originally completed my undergraduate degrees (Bachelor of Business (Economics), Bachelor of Mathematics) at QUT and did honours with Prof. Mat Simpson. After honours, I took up a role as an economist with Deloitte in Brisbane, and after a couple of years I decided I wanted to pursue my PhD. I had originally thought about doing a PhD in some kind of quantitative economics field, and caught up with Mat for a coffee and to chat about PhDs generally. Speaking with Mat again reminded me of a lot of the things I liked about research mathematics, and we ended up talking about potential projects I could do with him in a PhD. So sure enough I ended up back at QUT!

What was your research project about – and did things change along the way?

Originally we had two ideas, both within the realm of mathematical biology. One idea focused on clinically motivated optimal control, with a view to looking at things like optimal chemotherapy treatment regimes (at least in a mathematical sense). The other was going to focus on a cell motion/collective behaviour problem, but we ended up going hard down the optimal control path fairly early and totally forgot about this other path.

What else did you do at QUT besides your PhD?

I was involved in tutoring and super-tutoring for a variety of mathematics and economics subjects. I travelled to ANZIAM conferences in the Hunter Valley and in Nelson, New Zealand. I also took a three-month leave of absence to work as an RA (with the same supervisory team but on a different piece of work) in collaboration with researchers from the UQ Diamantina Institute at TRI. That was a great way to experience what real experiments and experimental data can look like.

Jesse with daughter at graduation

Any surprises along the way?

My wife and I had a baby about 2 years into the PhD. It wasn’t exactly a surprise, but it definitely changed the game somewhat. I also intended to spend 3 months visiting the University of Oxford through the ACEMS International Mobility Program, so I was in the UK in February and March 2020. For obvious reasons that trip was cut short. I came home about halfway through the intended visit, and avoided the introduction of hotel quarantine in Australia by only one day!

What are you doing now?

I am now a postdoctoral research fellow in the Centre for Data Science at QUT. I work closely with collaborators from the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) located up in Townsville. We are using mathematical and statistical techniques to model coral reef growth. I am also unit coordinator and lecturer for a course this semester, MXB362 Advanced Visualisation and Data Science.

Congratulations, Jesse!

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