PhD student James Davies is one of this year’s winners of the Faculty of Mathematics Graduate Research Excellence Award. The award recognizes and celebrates research excellence and includes a prize of $5,000.
Davies researches in the areas of structural graph and matroid theory and especially problems involving graph colourings.
He was nominated in relation to an upcoming publication in the top-flight journal Combinatorica. His paper, titled “Vertex-minor-closed classes are chi-bounded,” provides a proof for a conjecture from his supervisor, the eponymous Geelen’s conjecture.
Along with this research that saw him win the grad research award, Davies is writing another more general paper, “Pivot-minor-closed classes are chi-bounded,” continuing to break new ground.
“I got into this research in combinatorics and optimization during my master’s at Warwick,” said Davies. “When I was finishing up that program, I was looking to continue with a PhD, and Waterloo was the obvious choice. It’s been such a supportive environment in the department, and my supervisor is both a brilliant scholar and an amazing mentor.”
Davies got interested in mathematics at a young age. He credits the influence of his family, and especially his father and his brothers, with his zeal for math and problem-solving.
“They are more into the finance side of math,” he continued. “But they definitely encouraged me and are in my corner to this day. Having a support network is definitely a big help when doing a PhD.”
Asked what he plans to do next, Davies, who is in his fourth year of a PhD and looking to finish his dissertation this year, says he would like to continue in academia.
“My plan is to do a postdoc in a related area. I haven’t finalised where I will be going, but I love this work and it’s really all that I want to do.”
To learn more about Davies’ award-winning work, see the pre-print for his upcoming publication, “Vertex-minor-closed classes are chi-bounded.”