Apala Majumdar

Current Workplace: 
University of Bath
Current Role: 
Reader (Associate Professor) in Applied Mathematics
My Mathematics Success Story is...: 
I am a Reader (Associate Professor) in applied mathematics at the Department of Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath. Broadly speaking, I work on the mathematics of materials emphasizing on nematic liquid crystals. Nematic liquid crystals are partially ordered materials somewhere in between solids and liquids; simply speaking, they are complex liquids with orientational order or special preferred directions such that the nematic molecules typically align along these preferred directions. The existence of these special directions means that nematics have unique and extraordinary optical and electro-magnetic properties making them the working material of choice for several optical devices e.g. they form the backbone of the multi-billion dollar liquid crystal display industry. The mathematics of nematics is very rich, at the interface of pure and applied mathematics, and has deep connections with the physics, chemistry and engineering side of liquid crystal research. Experimentalists, theoretical scientists and mathematicians are constantly finding new ways of working together to make new advances in the field and the future holds immense potential for cutting-edge research that transcends all conventional discipline boundaries. I have an undergraduate degree in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Bristol, followed by a Ph.D. in applied mathematics. As a graduate student, I was a CASE student with Hewlett Packard laboratories and I was fortunate to combine the experience of working with excellent academics at the University with very experienced industrial researchers. I was subsequently awarded a Royal Commission of the Exhibition of 1851 research fellowship and I moved to the Oxford Centre for Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations in 2006, to the Oxford Centre for Collaborative Applied Mathematics in 2008 and to the University of Bath in 2012. I was awarded a 5-year EPSRC Career Acceleration Fellowship in 2011 and this fellowship gave me the invaluable opportunity to explore new areas of research or combine them with my existing research programme to yield new perspectives or novel solutions. My research has been recognized by a British Liquid Crystal Society Young Scientist Prize in 2012 and the London Mathematical Society Anne Bennett Prize in 2015. I find mathematics to be a rewarding, challenging and fulfilling profession. As part of my research programme, I naturally collaborate with mathematicians, physicists, chemists and materials engineers from all around the world, e.g. China, India, the States and South America. This is precious exposure and experience in a global environment, both from a scientific and personal point of view. Further, we train the next generation of researchers, including undergraduate students, postgraduate students embarking on a research career and young postdoctoral researchers finding their niche area of research. There are few professions where we decide what we want to work on, how we want to approach the problem, what our targets are and how we communicate our work to the rest of the world and mathematics and research in general, are such professions and hence, very lucrative for the creative and innovative kind.
Women in mathematics
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