Mathematical Sciences former PhD student Tom Finn has been awarded the first biennial prize for the best PhD thesis in Applied Probability from the Royal Statistical Society.

Tom's thesis, "Topics in random growth models", concerns models of competing particle systems. A common feature of these systems is that there are two types of particles living on the same graph. Each vertex of the graph can only be occupied by one of the two species. This constraint leads to a competition between the two types to spread out on the graph as much as possible.

In his thesis, Finn developed a novel multi-scale analysis that can circumvent technical challenges inherent in these models. This new technique has already been applied by other researchers in the field and can be expected to find more applications in relevant studies. Understanding the impact of competition and the emergence of coexistence phenomenon is a natural question in studying many complex systems. On the other hand, there has been very few mathematically tractable models for this purpose. The thesis of Finn is therefore a welcome and significant contribution.

The committee of the Applied Probability Section in particular noted the high quality and rigour of the thesis. Papers from the thesis have already been accepted in the prestigious Journal of the European Mathematical Society, and the Annals of Applied Probability.

This is the first Royal Statistical Society PhD competition in Applied Probability, which will be awarded biennially. The judging panel noted that the standard of applications was exceptionally high. The candidate will receive a certificate in an award ceremony at the upcoming AGM of the Applied Probability Section, and will be invited to organise a meeting of the RSS Applied Probability Section.

Tom is currently a postdoc at Durham.