Blaine at UCLA - Los Angeles
My two month secondment to UCLA was an invaluable experience for me; my academic career has no doubt benefitted from this experience.
From a research perspective it allowed me to devote time to a piece of research that I wanted to look into, but was never able to find. The NOMADs funding allowed me to extend my thesis research period, allowing me this time in new surroundings to look into a new research idea. The research I conducted in my secondment went successfully. I have proven some mathematical connections between the graph diffusion operator and the graph isomorphism problem; these results have allowed me to continue further research in using the graph diffusion operator to solve the graph isomorphism problem.
Networking with staff members of UCLA allowed me to discover more about the established literature in the applications of PDEs on graphs, which has provided me with useful mathematical tools to use in my future research career. UCLA is responsible for a significant proportion of the PDEs on graphs literature, so I gained a lot of insight from the faculty members responsible for this work.
Whilst in UCLA I split my time in two halves. One half was my own personal research development, the other half was for me to assist in the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) programme. A group of undergraduates were placed onto new projects in order for the undergraduates to develop some early research experience. I was placed into a team which was composed of early stage PhD students, and undergraduates. I used this experience to develop my mentoring experience, which I felt was lacking in my career development.
I developed in that I was responsible for explaining some current established research ideas in our field to a group of students with little, or no exposure to the field. Once that was achieved to a degree where the students could now attempt research, I provided the students with new ideas which they could implement to their project. Throughout the REU I was providing support to the students as they were working on their research project.
Finally, I would like to add that I was able to get to know some of the UCLA faculty and it’s students. It was a great experience meeting a lot of great people. The secondment was very fulfilling on a personal level too, as I got to experience life in a brand new city.