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Research on mixing it up earns MIT scholarship

Research on mixing it up earns MIT scholarship

A University of Auckland engineering undergraduate has earned a PhD scholarship to one of the world’s most prestigious universities after discovering inconsistencies in the way we measure mixed ingredients.

Joey Gu, 21, graduates today with a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) in Chemical and Materials Engineering and will begin his PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the city of Cambridge in the United States in August.

Around ten non-US-based students are offered a full PhD scholarship in Chemical Engineering at MIT each year but it is around five years since a student from Australasia was invited.

“Acceptance rates at MIT are quite low so it’s an amazing opportunity for me,” Joey says. “There will be some very ambitious goals in terms of the research so I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Joey’s final year project has been published in a major academic journal, something quite rare for an undergraduate, says Professor John Chen of the University of Auckland’s Faculty of Engineering.

“Joey is very immersed in his work and will make an excellent engineering scientist,” Professor Chen says.

Joey’s research looked at the indexes used to measure “mixedness”, a scientific concept used to measure how well ingredients are mixed together, for example breakfast cereal. Joey’s research discovered some indexes have been subject to incorrect interpretation because of their different baseline assumptions.

Joey also researched the Gini coefficient, an index economists use to measure income parity. He found the Gini coefficient, and other mixing indexes used in engineering could be used to measure a much wider range of dispersed elements, for example ecologists could use it to measure species diversity.

“No-one had done a comparative study of this before,” Professor Chen says.

Along with a passion for research, Joey’s main ambition is to teach.

“I would like to stay in academia, I’m really interested in teaching because I like the idea of sharing knowledge with others, knowledge that can transform people’s lives,” he says.


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