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Six Questions with: Dr Stefanie Biedermann

Six Questions with: Dr Stefanie Biedermann

Stefanie Biedermann is a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Southampton and was an organiser of the Design and Analysis of Experiments programme in 2011.

When did you become first interested in mathematics and what keeps your interest fresh?

I have been interested in mathematics since before I started school. I have always been fascinated by numbers and logical puzzles. If you solve one problem in mathematics it is like opening a door, behind which you find another unsolved problem (or more than one) already waiting for you.

Could you tell us a little about your career path so far and what your current research involves?

I did a degree in mathematics at Bochum, Germany. Towards the end of my studies, I became interested in mathematical statistics, because this area provides the opportunity to apply mathematical knowledge to real world problems. I decided to stay in Bochum to do a PhD. During this first serious exposure to research, I realised I wanted to stay in academia as a career. I worked as a Postdoctoral researcher for three years, before obtaining a lectureship at the University of Southampton, UK.

My current research is on optimal design of experiments, i.e. the best way to collect data in order to gain the most reliable statistical conclusions from the experiment.

What achievements are you most proud of?

I'm proud of some of my papers, in which optimal design of experiments is combined with a seemingly unrelated area, such as inverse problems. I am always happy when my research can make a new contribution to the field. I'm also proud that I could establish an academic career in a foreign country, and that I was asked to contribute a chapter to a book on design of experiments, jointly with one of my collaborators. And I am quite excited that my first two PhD students will be finishing soon.

How do you achieve a balance between your work and homelife?

Not very well, to be honest. There is just too much to do, teaching, supervision of students, grant applications, administrative tasks etc. I often have to work long hours to get at least some research done. When I walk home from work I usually can't get my current research problem out of my head! I have had many ideas this way, which resulted in me grabbing pen and paper as soon as I got home, and doing maths while cooking dinner. I try to achieve some balance by reading a lot of (non-maths) books, and by meeting friends.

What advice would you offer to young women who are just starting their careers in the mathematical sciences?

Don't be afraid of obstacles, but find your own way around them. A career in mathematics is not easy; it will take a lot time and effort, but you will find it's worth it.

Has your visit to the Newton Institute been fruitful?

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the staff of the Newton Institute for making my period here most enjoyable. I was able to discuss my research with the leaders in the field, to get a couple of new ideas, and have found some potential new collaborators for the future. I definitely recommend a research period here, preferably during a period of sabbatical leave.

University of Cambridge Research Councils UK
    Clay Mathematics Institute London Mathematical Society NM Rothschild and Sons