Last summer I was fortunate enough to complete an undergraduate research internship at the University of Bath, under the supervision of the wonderful Professor Jonathan Dawes.
IMI run a research internship programme of up to 10-weeks, where a student and a lecturer collaborate on a small research project. At the end, you have to write a report/paper summarising the work and results. My internship project, titled 'Thermal Convection in Non-Newtonian Fluids', was aimed at studying the pattern-forming instabilities that emerge when a thin layer of non-Newtonian fluid is heated from below.
What I did during the internship
The first thing was to try and understand the literature on this topic, and figure out what exactly I'd be doing during my 10-week internship. The initial work took around four weeks, although I continued reading literature throughout the project. Over the next few weeks, I started to develop an amplitude equation which, I must say, was a pain to acquire! However, it was worth it in the end, as it posed all the important information I needed to understand the instabilities in the fluid.
Once I'd created the equation, Jonathan set me tasks to evaluate and study it, for example using techniques and results already developed by J. Burke & J. Dawes (2012) and H. Kao & E. Knobloch (2012).
There are quite a few reasons why I decided to do an IMI research internship. Firstly, I’m very much interested in undertaking a PhD after my studies, and doing a research internship proved to be an amazing opportunity to gain research experience, as well as learn a specialist subject in some detail. Secondly, I wanted to extend my knowledge and learn something I wouldn’t have covered by just taking courses here. Most importantly, I admit that I'm really passionate about my subject, and was enticed by the opportunity to learn and work at the same time!
Taking part in the project taught me many things
How to read, write and structure an academic paper. Although reading a paper may sound simple, it's rather difficult. Having read a few now, I find it a lot easier. I believe it's a skill that all students - not just mathematicians - should possess.
How to manage my time (still working on that).
Introductory knowledge of convection and dynamical systems.
A broad range of mathematics which I'd never come across before, and it helped me gain a deeper understanding of the specific subject I studied.
On top of that, it taught me that working with an academic is great! I learned a lot from Jonathan, and he gave me useful advice on both the project and my future academic career. It's also nice to work with someone who shares your passion for maths.
Ten weeks isn't enough time to do a lot of project work, but it's enough to time to learn a lot, and it allowed me to further myself as a mathematician.
I'd want to thank the London Mathematical Society, IMI and the University for funding my project, and especially Professor Dawes for being a great supervisor. I’ve always wanted to go into academia, and having now experienced what it’s like to do research in mathematics, I'm even more determined to pursue a PhD.
Looking ahead, I am hoping to gain funding to do another research internship, to continue my research and, hopefully, complete the project I started last summer.
Apply now to do an undergraduate research internship
In the summer of 2020, IMI is offering around 20 competitive internships to students who are supervised by one or more academics at the University of Bath. Your internship can last for up to 10 weeks, and you will receive a stipend of maximum £200 per week.