PhD student James Davies wins Faculty of Mathematics Graduate Research excellence Award

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

James Davies

James Davies is a PhD student in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization. His research is supervised by Professor Jim Geelen. Davies was one of two winners of this year's Faculty of Mathematics Graduate Research Excellence Awards.

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.”