‘Living the experience’—a Colombian PhD student in Australia

December 20, 2018
Jairo Perez

Colombian PhD student Jairo Perez came to Australia this year as part of the Australia–Americas PhD Research Internship Program. He wanted to expand his mathematical and research skills, and says he was thrilled to travel to ‘the land down under’.

Jairo’s internship was with RMIT University. For Colombian students, this program was supported by the Australian Government Department of Education and Training’s Enabling Growth and Innovation Project Fund and the Colombian Administrative Department of Science, Technology and Innovation (COLCIENCIAS), and was delivered by the Academy.

‘It was an enriching time as it opened up other opportunities for me to do science not only in Colombia, but also in Australia,’ he said.

Jairo is studying the effects of a new technology on human behaviour; particularly, what would happen if pedestrians could report to police those drivers who do not stop for them at pedestrian crossings.

His research relies on behavioural science, system dynamics, theory of control, optimisation techniques, and sociocybernetics.

Professor of Applied Mathematics at RMIT’s School of Science, John Hearne, was his supervisor during his internship and provided all the tools and knowledge he needed to work on sensitivity analysis for social simulations. They used system dynamics, a highly abstract method of modelling that estimates the behaviour of complex problems in time.

During his internship at RMIT, Jairo attended the International Conference of the System Dynamics Society in Iceland to present preliminary results of his work.

‘The experience of going overseas, being already abroad, to work on my PhD, brought lots of personal and professional gains to my life. It would have not been possible without the help of my supervisors and the Australian Academy of Science,’ he says.

After returning from Iceland, Jairo extended his stay for two months to complement his studies with companies and other universities.

He says the opportunity inspired him to create fresh perspectives of research and try initiatives to evolve and grow not only as a scientist but also as a person.

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