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Natalie Thamwattana

Mathematics Professor

UoN

Maths just clicked for one girl in rural Thailand. Now Natalie Thamwattana is a world-leading researcher in nanotech.

Growing up in rural Thailand, Ngamta “Natalie” Thamwattana had no idea she’d one day become a world-leading researcher. Her mother was a dressmaker and her father was a policeman. They encouraged her to study and attend university.

Natalie completed a science degree with First-Class Honours in Mathematics at Mahidol University in Bangkok, and completed her PhD at the University of Wollongong.

She is now a professor in applied mathematics at the University of Newcastle and has won several awards for her research. One area of research she is well-known for is looking at how we could build a carbon nanotube capable of delivering drugs into the human body.

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Natalie loves looking at the world through the lens of maths, whether it’s drug delivery using nanotechnology or how bulk materials, such as coal, flow out of a silo. “I believe that every kind of problem can be looked at using mathematics,” she says.

As the first in her family to go on to higher education, Natalie understands how difficult this can be for students in similar situations.

“It’s important to find a network of friends, and talk to your teacher,” she advises. “We are under-utilised by our students.”

Natalie’s study and career pathway

This article is brought to you in partnership with The University of NewcastleIt originally appears in Careers with STEM: Maths 2020.

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