Inspired by maths

A belief that mathematics has an even bigger role to play in the future of science, technology and medical treatment drives the research of Associate Professor Ngmata (Natalie) Thamwattana.

The technological progress she has witnessed over her lifetime inspires Thamwattana. With her focus on mathematical modelling for nanostructures and its application in nanotechnology, she is now playing her part in scientific advances, for example the safe delivery of technology and treatments, through the study of mathematics.

Growing up in a small town in rural Thailand, Thamwattana was the first of her family to attend university. Receiving first class honours in mathematics at Mahidol University, Bangkok, she came to UOW in 2001 to undertake her PhD studies in the field of granular mechanics.

She was then awarded an Australian Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Australian Research Council to develop mathematical models for applications of nanomaterials in biology and medicine, which continues to be her area of focus.

She investigates modelling electroheological fluids, the mechanics of carbon nanostructures, nanomaterials used in biology and medicine and protein and other polymer chain structures using the calculus of variations.

Already, Thamwattana has had a number of her research publications appearing in top fully-refereed international journals, such as the Proceedings of the Royal Society, and an impressive citation record. She is the winner of the 2014 Vice-Chancellor’s Emerging Research Award and received the 2014 J.H.Michell Medal from the Australian Mathematical Society.

Her early days in Thailand are never far from her mind. She initiated the Maths and Stats Explorer Day at UOW to provide activities for high school students from low socio-economic areas.

Thanwattana, a mother of two young children, said: “I believe my story so far is a good example of someone who is determined to reach their potential, regardless of their background. I am keen to pass on my enthusiasm for science with diverse real world applications to future generations.”