Niam Askey-Doran standing outdoors

Niam Askey-Doran

Decoding the Brain

Honours Student, Applied Mathematics
College of Sciences and Engineering,
University of Tasmania

Have you ever been staring out the window, or watching your favourite show, and wondered how it’s possible you can see anything at all? How does your brain know what it is looking at? Your brain is an amazing thing, and “seeing” is just one of the many amazing things that it can do.

I am currently an applied mathematician, meaning I try to use maths to understand how things work. In my current research I use mathematics to understand the brain, particularly how the brain allows us to see. Not only would it be interesting to understand how your brain knows what it is looking at, but it could help us to create smart computer programs (like artificial intelligence) capable of seeing just as well as we can. Even though the brain is complex, I try to understand some of it using a few simple mathematical ideas.

I have always been interested in science, and have also spent time studying physics, neuroscience, and human biology. That’s one of the cool things about being a scientist – you’re never locked in to learning about one topic. If you’re curious enough you can learn about anything you like, and you get to see how seemingly unrelated topics, like maths and neuroscience, are actually connected.

I have lived in Hobart, Tasmania my whole life. When I’m not doing science, I can usually be found either hiking or playing inline hockey.