In this blog, we spoke to Dr Oscar Bandtlow, Senior Lecturer in Applied Mathematics. He discussed his academic path, his teaching experience at the School as well as giving advice to prospective students.
How long have you been teaching at Queen Mary University and what do you enjoy about working at the School of Maths?
I came here as a Postdoc in 2001 initially working with David Arrowsmith and then with Oliver Jenkinson. I also had a brief stint as a temporary lecturer in the Electronic Engineering department. I left for Nottingham for a few years and then came back to Queen Mary. I have worked at a number of universities in the UK, including Edinburgh, Glasgow and Nottingham, but I must admit I find Queen Mary one of the friendliest places to work and I really like it here.
Tell us about your research
I have a PhD in Theoretical Physics but then decided to concentrate on Mathematics. My research is focussed on dynamical systems, which is the study of how things change as time passes. I am particularly interested in chaotic dynamical systems. People realised at some stage that deterministic systems can behave in a very erratic way and for the last fifty years there has been a development of tools and tricks to deal with situations of uncertainty. I also recently discovered that the fairly esoteric maths I have been doing has some practical applications for studying the distribution of vibrational energy in built-up structures, something that is very useful for the automotive industry.
When and how did you realise you wanted to be a lecturer?
I have always had strong academic interests. For some reasons, I have always known I wanted to do a PhD and I am very pleased that I managed to achieve this. I really love working in academia, doing research but also teaching and passing on my knowledge to students. My classes are quite big. At the moment I am teaching Calculus to about 400 first-year students. I try to keep my lectures as interactive as possible, often asking questions to students. Sometimes it’s very easy and sometimes it’s a bit more challenging. Overall, I feel very privileged for being paid to do something I really enjoy.
When did you publish your first academic article? What did it focus on?
I remember my first published article very well. It came out of my Master’s Thesis in Cambridge and is called “On the discrete-time version of the Brussels formalism”. I also remember that it almost did not get published because the journal was a Physics journal and one of the referees claimed that the paper did not contain any Physics. However, after a short battle with the editor my supervisor and I managed to get it published.
Any advice to students wanting to study Mathematics?
I think that the best motivation to study Mathematics is being curious about the subject. Doing a Maths degree is hard work, but also very rewarding, as it opens up a number of rather different career paths.
Find out more about studying at the School of Maths.