I have built a thorough knowledge of both pure and applied mathematics

Yihui Tong
Yihui Tong
Undergraduate student
Mathematics MMath
Yihui enjoyed choosing from a wide range of modules and developed an interest in solar physics, which she plans to study further as a postgraduate researcher.

What made you want to study your course?

I have had a passion for maths since a very young age, and I have always enjoyed it. In most real world questions lie a solution based in the use of mathematics. It’s no wonder that mathematics is a fascinating and useful degree program to pursue.

What made you decide to study at the University of Sheffield?

The Mathematics MMath at the University of Sheffield is well designed and carefully structured, and it fits my aspirations. With the high-quality education offered by this course, I have received excellent academic support and enjoyed invaluable interactions with the faculty. In third year, I was able to select a broad range of topics, including some optional modules such as Fluid Mechanics and Magnetohydrodynamic, which have sparked my research interests and prepared me very well for conducting research. Furthermore, Sheffield is a great place to live. The Students' Union has even been voted the UK’s number one, which is a worthy reason to study in Sheffield as well.

What have you enjoyed most about your course so far?

This past summer, I took part in the Undergraduate Research Internship (UGRI) programme. Under the supervision by Professor Robertus von Fay-Siebenburgenb, I had my first substantive research experience investigating how waves propagate in the magnetic fluid that constitutes the sun’s atmosphere. This was unquestionably the most important and rewarding component of my undergraduate education. Subsequently, I was named as a co-author of the paper 'MHD wave propagation and the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in an asymmetric magnetic slab system'. The manuscript was accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. I have developed and maintained strong relations with the research group through weekly meetings that helped us to track ideas and actions. This experience also enhanced my presentation skills as I had to defend my research in a seminar. Ultimately, this research project has inspired me to further study space plasma physics in the solar system.

What skills have you developed during your course?

Thanks to the intensive training I received in my undergraduate studies, I have built a thorough knowledge of both pure and applied mathematics. I have also developed my programming skills through the study of the computing modules. I have gained experience in constructing, analysing and interpreting numerical methods for physical phenomena – for instance, mathematical modelling of wave propagation by using asymptotic techniques to solve partial differential equations.

What would you say to a student thinking about studying your course at Sheffield?

The broad range of third year optional modules will help you to explore your interests in a greater depth and greatly support your research work. I definitely recommend the summer research projects, such as the SURE or UGRI programme. The experience is a really good opportunity to work on cutting-edge topics, train further as a researcher and can even lead to journal publications, which is great preparation for a PhD student.

What are you planning to do after your degree?

I am going to study a second masters degree in astrophysics at University College London. My enjoyment of studying the Magnetohydrodynamics module has sparked my interest in the field of astrophysics, which provides a mathematical framework for describing solar activities and forecasting space weather. The enthusiasm motivates me to delve deeply into space plasma and solar physics and compels me to pursue a MSc programme in Astrophysics. After the MSc degree, I intend to continue pursuing a PhD.

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