Ravil Mussabayev

Specialization: mathematical and computer modeling. Internship: University of Washington, USA.

A 20-year-old graduate of the Kazakh-British Technical University, Ravil has won a competition as part of the research internships program of the Shakhmardan Yessenov Foundation and spent last summer at the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Washington in Seattle.

What has brought you to mathematics? What else can be discovered in the science where everything is already discovered?
Since my childhood I liked to do whatever requires careful thinking and utmost care. Mathematics is a pure human thought without any meaningless husk. When I think about mathematical ideas, I feel like I do what really matters, ignoring what doesn’t matter altogether. Good ideas in mathematics have far-reaching consequences. So, the opinion that everything in this science has already been discovered is wrong. Mathematics is a creative activity similar to many others, and to say that almost everything has been done in this science is just as meaningless as to tell artists that all the pictures have already been painted.

How was the grant competition for you?
After the foundation team evaluated our documents and applications, I made it to the final. In my essay, I honestly wrote what I thought. I also had great pleasure networking with other contestants in the final. Throughout the competition, I just tried to be myself, tried to be sincere in my answers.

What did you do during the internship?
I worked with Professor Gunther Uhlmann in the field of geometric inverse problems. Professor suggested that I prove one of the results of his recent work. We met once a week, I told him about the progress of my work and asked him about what was unclear. He recommended me useful books and scientific articles, which I was busy studying during the week. It helped me understand many things in mathematics. I also learned a lot of useful things from communicating with my professor’s PhD and postdoctoral students. If I got stuck on some problem, they, like other professors of the faculty, helped me solve it. In parallel, I was also preparing for the GRE Subject Mathematics test, which is required for admission to doctoral studies.

What have you achieved?
I was able to provide a mathematical proof for the result obtained by Professor. Over the summer I have strengthened my knowledge of mathematics, spoken and academic English. Communication with the faculty‘s people also helped me decide where to move on in the future. I was able to see the sights of Seattle. Together with other international students who visited the University, I spent time at city festivals and went hiking on one of the active volcanoes called Mount Rainier. I’m staying in touch with some of PhD students I met there. Funny enough, it was actually my first trip abroad.

What’s next?
Gunther wrote me a letter of recommendation, and I enrolled to PhD studies in mathematics at the University of Washington, which I am starting in the fall. Also, I plan to continue my research in the field of geometry.

24.05.18, Success stories

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