Professor Kate Smith-Miles

Mathematics is the language of all science, and Professor Kate Smith-Miles speaks it fluently and passionately. As Director of the Monash Academy for Cross & Interdisciplinary Mathematical Applications (MAXIMA), Professor Smith-Miles identifies interesting problems that require a mathematician's perspective.

"I've developed mathematical models of systems as diverse as financial markets, consumer behaviour, manufacturing processes, and gene regulatory networks that control stem cells. It doesn't matter what the application area is, the fundamentals are the same," Professor Smith-Miles said.

In recognition of the importance of mathematics to all science disciplines, Monash University has invested significantly in initiatives such as MAXIMA that encourage a rich and collaborative research environment.

Professor Smith-Miles believes it is important for young women to have role models in mathematics. Her passion for supporting women to enter mathematics careers has led to her appointment as chair of the Advisory Board for the Choose Maths program, which is run by the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute with funding from BHP Billiton Foundation.

An unfortunate perception of mathematicians is that they sit alone all day, slaving away at difficult maths problems, Professor Smith-Miles said. However, this is certainly not the case for most.

"Mathematics is best done in teams, brainstorming around a board, considering different perspectives and ideas to tackle the problem. And those teams are richer if they include women".

Visit Science Stories to find out more about Professor Smith-Miles.