Emma Greenbank

As a born problem-solver, it was Emma’s endless questions about how the world functions that drew her to a degree in Physics and Mathematics.

Emma Greenbank writes mathematical equations on a whiteboard with an book propped open.

Along the way, her studies took some unexpected twists and turns.

“Physics is all about explaining how the world works. I enjoyed the problem-solving aspect of it, so I decided to focus my bachelor’s degree on Physics. The decision to do a second major in Mathematics was to support the Physics major.

“However, during my undergraduate, I took a mathematical modelling course and that changed everything. Mathematical modelling is basically a big problem-solving exercise, so it really appealed to me. This course opened the door for me to do a master’s and PhD in maths rather than physics.”

Emma’s PhD focused on mathematically modelling Surtseyan ejecta—a lava bomb containing deposits of mud that is ejected from shallow underwater volcanoes. “The aim of this project was to write accurate pressure and temperature equations that will predict under what conditions these ejecta will explode. I learnt some really interesting mathematics involving fluids in porous media and have also had the chance to experiment with various techniques for solving mathematical models.

“I have really enjoyed being a part of the School of Mathematics and Statistics. We have a very close-knit group of PhD students that started about the same time I did, and we have supported each other along the way. I also have found all the staff to be friendly and helpful. They provided me with many opportunities to lecture, tutor and to help with outreach.”

As soon as Emma submitted her PhD for marking, she started a two-year contract as a senior tutor. “I am really looking forward to lecturing. In my own time, I have been also working on some of the papers I didn’t have a chance to write during my PhD and I am hoping to get them published. In the future, I would like to do a postdoctoral fellowship.”