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Eleanor McDonald

Maths PhD Student - Oxford

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Eleanor (Elle) McDonald graduated from Stuartholme School in 2005 and is currently studying for her PHD in Applied Mathematics at Oxford University, UK.

When she has finished her PhD, Elle plans to head back to Australia and aim for a position as a Postdoctoral Researcher at an Australian university.

Read Eleanor’s Transcript


Why did you decide to move to Oxford?

I was keen to study in the UK and my brother-in-law had been to Oxford, so suggested that I should apply. I applied to several different universities and Oxford was the first one I got accepted to, so I said yes straightaway.

What did you get up to after you completed school at Stuartholme?

When I graduated from Stuartholme I went to the University of Queensland and I started a degree in Pharmacy. After a year, I decided to change to a Bachelor of Science. I picked up some maths subjects and enjoyed them, so made that my major. I then completed my Bachelor and did an Honours year. Following my Honours year, I worked for two years in an environmental engineering firm and then moved to Oxford for more study.

What does a PhD in Applied Mathematics entail?

My PhD is difficult to explain but it’s like an optimisation problem for engineering applications. I look at the numerics and how we can solve the problems faster.

What are your favourite memories of Stuartholme?

I really enjoyed my time at Stuartholme, particularly in the Boarding School. It was a lot of fun and I’ve made a lot of good friends that I’m still in touch with today.

Do you think a Stuartholme education helped you in choosing to pursue maths?

The teachers at Stuartholme really supported and encouraged me to do maths and science subjects. They gave me the opportunity to excel in those subjects which helped me realize that that’s what I wanted to do and pursue as a career.

What do you think is special about Stuartholme?

I think one of the things about Stuartholme that’s really special is the community spirit. It’s definitely a big family, particularly in the Boarding School where you know everyone. The School is also a nice size, where you know everyone and everyone feels included.

My older sisters, cousins and aunts went to Stuartholme, so it was nice to have that bond and shared experience. I think something that really shines among Stuartholme alumnae is self-confidence they have.

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