I'm an Australian, a sandgroper from Perth. You can tell this by my impeccable spelling. I graduated from Rossmoyne Senior High School before starting a BSc at Murdoch University. A few years later, I found myself burdened with a double degree in mathematics and physics (and 3/4 of a degree in chemistry). Embracing the financial poverty that was now my destiny, I completed an honours degree in operator theory and three-body quantum scattering. I then moved on to the University of Western Australia (who will no doubt complain that I haven't capitalised the "T" in "the") where I occupied myself with a masters degree in the theory of topological chaotic dynamics and its application to noise reduction algorithms.
I then moved to Adelaide to start a PhD at the University of Adelaide. There, I was introduced to the wonderful world of conformal field theory and tried in vain to pick up the rudiments of string theory. With a little Lie theory, algebraic topology, differential geometry, and commutative algebra, I wrote a thesis on D-brane charges and fusion rings in Wess-Zumino-Witten models. The last two years of my doctoral studies were completed as a guest of the maths department at La Trobe University in Melbourne; without their generosity, things would have been rather difficult.
I then moved to Québec as a postdoc with Pierre Mathieu. There, I worked on extending the chiral algebras of various conformal field theories and made some forays into the world of logarithmic conformal field theory. I also managed to find time to try a bit of skiing and skating, though the intricate art of curling remained elusive. As did a solid grasp of the french language, or at least the local dialect.
Then, I moved to the DESY Theory Group in Hamburg with Jörg Teschner. There, I continued my romping in logarithmic conformal fields and also branched out into the wider world of deformed conformal field theories, integrable models and quantum groups. I tried once again to learn some basic string theory, but it seems that my brain is set on rejecting all such knowledge transplants. Luckily, I had ample opportunity to sample the joys of living in continental Europe, with its myriad of confusing cultures and its myriad of confusing languages. I will miss the cheese most of all...
Well, I ended up back in Canada, this time in Montréal, with Yvan Saint-Aubin, doing mathematics once again. I also had the luck to get some lecturing in the McGill University maths department while I worked on my French. It certainly wasn't hard to recreate the joy of living in that beautiful country, while simultaneously working very hard on new and interesting problems. And getting fat on the ubiquitous (and cheap!) french patisseries! Plus, Montréal has lots of cheese, lovely lovely cheese (and I don't count that horrible poutine cheese either!).
As luck would have it, my time in Montréal was cut short by a not-to-be-refused grant application unexpectedly getting funded. I returned to Australia as an Australian Research Fellow at the Australian National University in Canberra. There, I got to wallow in the muddy waters of logarithmic conformal field theories and teach myself some vertex algebra theory for five whole years. Happy times, though I was horrified at how expensive Australia had become. Even the local cheeses exceeded expectations hugely (mmm, Small Cow Farm's Redella).
This saga has a happy ending. The clever sods in the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Melbourne decided to take pity on me and give me a continuing position. This was a dangerous gambit given the University's close proximity to the cheesemongers of the Queen Vic Markets, but so far everyone seems to be happy. Especially me. All I need to do now is a bit of work (and not to think about property prices). Wish me luck! I promise to return the favour someday...
Conformal field theory
PhD (Mathematical physics) University of Adelaide 2005