Jean Rizk: ‘FameLab is an opportunity to show that maths is for everybody’

4 Apr 2019

Jean Rizk. Image: British Council

Jean Rizk wants to tell the FameLab audience all about the new oil of the 21st century – data – and how it can predict the future.

Jean Rizk is a PhD candidate in applied mathematics and statistics at University of Limerick. He already has a BSc in pure maths and an MSc in mathematical modelling, and previously worked as a secondary maths teacher.

In his PhD, Rizk uses mathematical modelling to find solutions for the queueing problems that currently arise in Irish hospitals. “I am also a personal trainer and a competitive athlete in both CrossFit and indoor rowing,” he told us.

How did you hear about FameLab and what made you enter?

I heard about FameLab in University of Limerick through the MACSI department. I was encouraged by my PhD supervisor.

FameLab is an opportunity to change people’s perspective on mathematics and show that maths is for everybody.

What’s your presentation about and how did you prepare for it?

My talk is about how mathematical modelling can predict the future, and how data is the new oil of the 21st century. A mathematical model is like an engine that runs on data to generate predictions.

To prepare for my talk, I had to make sure that the content is correct, attractive and easy to understand. Then practice, practice, practice.

What was your journey to the final?

I had the opportunity to expand my network and meet other people who are also passionate about science.

I was delighted to have come second in the Limerick regional heat. Winning gave me confidence and helped me overcome the fear that accompanies public speaking.

I am also proud to have won the audience vote at the regional heat. This shows that I succeeded, to some extent, in changing people’s perspective on mathematics. I’m looking forward to the national final!

How valuable is this experience in teaching you how to communicate?

This experience enhanced my communication skills and helped disseminate my research to the public. This will certainly improve my career development.

Are you a researcher with an interesting project to share? Let us know by emailing with the subject line ‘Science Uncovered’.