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Alumni profiles

Alumni from York's Department of Mathematics include Professor Jane Hillston who graduated with a BA in Mathematics in 1985 from York, before doing her PhD in Computer Sciences at Edinburgh. Her thesis won one of the BCS/CPHC Distinguished Dissertation Awards for 1995 and has been published by Cambridge University Press. In 2004, she received the first Roger Needham Award at the Royal Society in London, which is awarded to a significant contributor of computer research in the UK.

Nicola Monaghan is an english novelist who graduated from York with a BSc in Mathematics in 1995. Nicola’s books include The Killing Jar, Starfishing and The Okinawa Dragon; she was listed in The Independent’s New Year 2006 list of rising talent.

Sam Lichy

Engineer at L3 TRL Technology, UK

My name is Samantha and I am currently a graduate engineer at L3 TRL. I joined the company in July 2016 after studying for a Bachelors degree in Mathematics at the University of York.

During my degree, I studied two particular modules, Cryptography, and Programming and Scientific Computing. As a consequence, I developed a passion for two subject areas, programming and cryptography, which led to me applying for a role in the defence and cybersecurity sector. Since joining L3 TRL, the main areas that I work in are software engineering, cryptography and developing innovative solutions for complex problems.

One thing I found when joining the defence sector, and particularly L3 TRL, is that whether you are coming in as a graduate engineer or as a consultant with ten years’ experience, you will never stop learning and training. If you do not have the skills to work on a particular project, you will pick them up. I am picking up skills every day, and since joining L3 TRL, I am now able to code in C++, Java and Python and get involved in some very innovative and interesting work.

If you’re interested in joining the defence sector, take a look at an article I wrote on a graduate’s transition from university to the defence sector.

Kevin Bertman

Teacher, Osaka International School, Japan

I studied Mathematics at York from 1998 to 2001. In my 3rd Year I elected to take the C Programming module which ignited my passion for computer programming.

For my final project I was able to use the knowledge I learned in this class to investigate properties of Penrose Tilings, which are non-periodic tilings covering the infinite plane. Fast forward to the present day and I have taught mathematics in international schools in Tokyo, Dubai and Osaka after completing my PGCE, also at York. Programming plays a large part in my classes with my students programming their own computer games and physical simulations used to perform virtual experiments.

To support my students I maintain a professional website. One of the tools on the website is a question bank containing randomly-generated maths questions. I would not have been able to create this if I hadn’t taken that C Programming class.

Andres Volosyanko

Decision Scientist at Fintech

I studied Economics and Maths at the University of York. Following my degree, I worked briefly for the Wolfson Atmospheric Chemistry Laboratories as a research assistant where I built a database for storing and accessing chemical compound data. I was able to do this because I took a few coding-related modules which taught R and Java which gave me the coding foundations I needed to quickly pick up other relevant languages such as Python and SQL.

This experience helped me land an interview with a well-funded fintech start-up as a decision scientist. At the interview, I talked in depth about the work I did in the ‘Statistical Pattern Recognition’ and ‘Practical Data Science with R’ modules – which ultimately landed me the role. My role here is interesting and requires lots of script writing – so I am building on top of the mathematical and coding foundations I was taught in my degree. For example, I have been writing up scripts to monitor the suitability of proprietary models. This is important because population distributions can change over time which affects the suitability of models being used on current populations that have shifted from the ones the original model was built upon.

I have also noticed that there has been a big internal push towards machine learning and as a result, I am considering pursuing a masters degree to build further upon the ML foundations that I was taught in the ‘Statistical Pattern Recognition’ and ‘Practical Data Science with R’ modules. Having a maths-based degree at the University of York has opened up a lot of opportunities for me.