Student Profile: Leo Li

Leo Li

University of Melbourne


Leo hails from Perth where he attended Christ Church Grammar School before moving interstate to study at the University of Melbourne with residence at Trinity College. He is currently going into his third year in the Bachelor of Science through the Chancellor’s Scholar programme, majoring in Pure Mathematics before pursuing postgraduate studies in the biological, medicinal or mathematical sciences. He has a keen interest in geometry and combinatorics, both of which play an important role in his Vacation Research Scholarship project, which investigates the orientations and configurations of polymers. Outside of mathematics, Leo’s hobbies include playing saxophone, tennis and weightlifting. He is passionate about both the technical fundamentalist approach towards modern research mathematics, as well as the beauty that lies in elegant proof.

Polymer Models and Directed Walks

Non-stick frypans, plastic bottles, proteins and starches are four things one would often not consider to be related. However, combinatorial modelling acts to model the motions of the chemicals that underpin all four of these. They are polymers, defined as long molecules made up of singular rudimentary subunits known as monomers. (For example, proteins are simply chains of amino acids, whilst starch consists of a chain of glucose 300-1000 molecules long). Since backbone carbon molecules bear sp3 electron geometries, this results in a number of configurations of such polymers, which we aim to count. In this project we aim to discuss and build upon pre-existing approaches used to model such paths and configurations through a nodal model, whilst analysing and exploring any new results that may appear.

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