STEMM Profile: Ajani De Vas Gunasekara | PhD student & Teaching Associate | School of Mathematics | Monash University | Melbourne | VIC

“Mathematics is a beautiful subject built on logic. Like an artist turns his imagination into a fine drawing, a mathematician turns his imagination into theorems, lemmas and conjectures”

Ajani De Vas Gunasekara is a PhD candidate and Teaching Associate in the School of Mathematics at Monash University with a great interest in discrete mathematics. Her current research project is mainly focused on Combinatorial design theory.

Ajani obtained her master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Central Florida, USA, and she received the mathematics master’s thesis award for her research project. Furthermore, she worked as a teaching assistant in the school of mathematics while she was engaged in her studies.

She received her bachelor’s degree (specialized in mathematics) from the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka with a GPA of 3.93/4.00, and was the recipient of an academic excellence award and a colours awardee for chess. Right after graduating, she had the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant and then a lecturer in the mathematics department.

She has published several journal articles and conference abstracts related to her field and would like to contribute both in teaching and research.

What was the key thing that helped you get to where you are today?

I would say, taking risks and being independent.

What inspired you to do science/technology/engineering/mathematics/medicine? Have you always liked STEMM?

I have always loved mathematics and science because it challenges the brain and that’s a nice feeling. And now I have chosen to do math for the rest of my life. Mathematics is a beautiful subject built on logic. Like an artist turns his imagination into a fine drawing, a mathematician turns his imagination into theorems, lemmas and conjectures.

What is the biggest challenge to women pursuing a career in the STEMM sector?

As women we ought to play different roles in our personal lives, (as a wife, mother, etc.) and each role carries equal importance and requires a great amount of time. Pursuing a career in STEMM sector is highly competitive and needs a lot of hard work to be stable and sometimes those positions might not be flexible. Therefore, I think coping with both a personal and professional life is a challenge.

How do you balance the different activities and tasks you need to perform?

I try to be organized and to avoid procrastination.

What are your favourite past‐times or hobbies?

Playing online chess is my favourite hobby. Apart from that I love being in nature, which I believe is a prodigious way of relaxing and a stress reducing therapy. I love taking detailed photographs of natural objects. I also enjoy watching comedy or drama.

LinkedIn: Ajani De Vas Gunasekara

ResearchGate: Ajani De Vas Gunasekara


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