UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


MAPS Faculty 2021 Postgraduate Prize Winners Announced

23 June 2022

Many congratulations to Petru Constantinescu and Matthew Price, joint winners of the 2021 Faculty Postgraduate Research Prize, and to Paul Anil Shah and Maymana Arefin, joint winners of the 2021 Faculty Postgraduate Taught Prize.

Image of a trophy - Credit: iStock

Postgraduate Research Prize

The 2021 Postgraduate Research Prize was jointly awarded to Petru Constantinescu for his outstanding achievements in his PhD in Geometry and Number Theory. Matthew Price was the other joint recipient of the 2021 Postgraduate Research Prize; Matthew received the prize for his outstanding achievements in his PhD in Space & Climate Physics.

Petru Constantinescu - PhD in Geometry and Number Theory

Petru’s research supervisor, Prof. Yiannis Petridis, said:

“Constantinescu's research concentrates on automorphic forms and analytic number theory, in particular, distribution of periods and quantum unique ergodicity. His thesis was of exceptional quality, leading to two major publications in International Mathematics Research Notices and Transactions of the American Mathematical Society. He has been working with young students to advance their problem-solving skills. He trained our International Mathematics Competition (IMC) team three times producing some of UCL’s best results ever. He is currently postdoc at Max-Planck-Institut for Mathematics in Bonn, under the mentorship of Prof. Dr Valentin Blomer. He will continue his research at EPFL in Switzerland working with Prof. Philippe Michel for the next three years. Both his mentors are world-leading figures in Analytic Number Theory.”

Prof. Helen Wilson, Head of the Department, said:

“I'm delighted to see Petru Constantinescu as joint winner of the MAPS Faculty Postgraduate Research Prize. Petru is a pure mathematician whose PhD was part of our joint CDT "The London School of Geometry and Number Theory". In a field where publication is extremely slow, he already has two papers accepted, which is extraordinary. He's also a really good departmental citizen, helping train some of our very best undergraduate students for international competitions. Well done Petru!”

In his response to being awarded the prize, Petru stated:

Petru stands smiling in the foreground with water and hills in the background.
“I feel honoured, surprised and humbled to be awarded the MAPS Postgraduate Research Prize. Most importantly, I am very grateful to my supervisor Yiannis Petridis, who has showed me unmatched support, encouragement, and guidance on my journey diving into the beautiful and rich world of analytic number theory and automorphic forms. Also, I would like to acknowledge my fellow students and staff from the Department of Mathematics and LSGNT, I have been part of a very friendly and supportive environment, formed many beautiful friendships and I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UCL.”


Matthew Price - PhD in Space & Climate Physics

Matthew’s research supervisor Prof. Jason McEwen noted that:

“Matt made exceptional progress during his PhD, introducing critical new analysis methodologies to recover maps of the dark matter distribution of the Universe from observations of weak gravitational lensing, while simultaneously quantifying uncertainties. Such maps are of great interest not only to visualise the dark matter distribution of the Universe but to study the higher order statistical and clustering properties of dark energy and dark matter. The techniques Matt has developed will be critical to analyse upcoming observations from the European Space Agency (ESA) Euclid satellite, in which UCL is heavily involved.”

Prof. Andrew Fazakerley, Head of the Department, said:

“Many congratulations to Matt, who has developed a unique set of expertise and published many papers during his PhD, spanning three important facets of astrostatistics. He has developed new world-leading techniques for mapping the dark matter distribution of the Universe using observations of weak gravitational lensing and extended them from narrow to wide field observations. Those wide field techniques will soon find application in analysis of observations from the ESA Euclid satellite, for which our Department is leading the VIS instrument which will observe over a third of the celestial sphere, and we are thus delighted that Matt has chosen to carry out post-doctoral research with us at MSSL.”

In his response to being awarded the prize, Matthew Price stated:

Matthew Price smiles in hat and scarf.
“I would like to express my gratitude to the Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences for jointly awarding me the Faculty prize for postgraduate research. It was surprising enough to learn I had been nominated, let alone to have been successful! I would like to thank both Prof. Jason McEwen for his outstanding mentorship over these past few years, and my various colleagues both at UCL/MSSL and further abroad. I owe thanks to STFC for funding my studies, and UCL for funding an innovation mini-fellowship which allowed me to explore synergistic cross-cutting research themes. It has been a privilege collaborating with such a fantastic group of researchers at MSSL. I look forward to continuing my research over the coming years as a MAPS Research Fellow - there is much work yet to be done!”

Postgraduate Taught Prize

The 2021 Postgraduate Taught Prize was jointly awarded to Paul Anil Shah for his impressive work in his MSc Astrophysics during the last academic session. Maymana Arefin was the other joint recipient of the 2021 Postgraduate Taught Prize; Maymana received the prize for her outstanding achievements in the MSc in Science, Technology & Society.

Paul Anil Shah - MSc Astrophysics

Paul’s research supervisor was Prof. Ofer Lahav. Prof. Lahav stated:

“Paul participated in the UCL MSc Astrophysics programme (over 2019-2021) after a career in the City and before that a PhD in Cambridge. Paul’s performance as an MSc student has been outstanding. In addition, the MAPS Faculty Taught Prize he received the Harrie Massey MSc Prize. His research project was supervised by Prof. Ofer Lahav (P&A Department) and former Post-doc Dr. Pablo Lemos. Apart from his top grades in exams Paul has produced research articles based on his MSc research. The first is a comprehensive review article on “A buyer’s guide to the Hubble Constant” (Shah, Lemos and Lahav, Astronomy & Astrophysics Review, published in December 2021, arXiV link 2109.01161). In the process of writing it Paul has interacted directly with leaders of the field, and he gave presentations on this review at several universities. His second paper (submitted to MNRAS, arxiv link 2203.09865) considers the important and somewhat under-explored problem of weak gravitational lensing of distant Supernovae Ia (SN Ia) due to intervening matter inhomogeneities. A follow up paper is in preparation. Paul is now an Honorary Research Fellow at the P&A Department.”

In his response to being awarded the prize, Paul Anil Shah stated:

Paul Anil Shah sits at a desk with a book, writing on a sheet of paper with a pen.
“I'm very honoured - and surprised - to receive the MAPS Postgraduate Taught prize, especially as a mature student who was last in a lecture hall in 1991! I have a special debt of thanks to UCL's lecturers for rising to the challenge of delivering their courses online, to Prof. Ofer Lahav and Dr. Pablo Lemos for their encouragement during my project. I'm very pleased to be back with the department this year, continuing my research into supernovae and cosmology."



Maymana Arefin - MSc in Science, Technology & Society

Maymana’s research supervisor Prof. Emily Dawson noted that:

“Working with Maymana over the time she’s been in the STS department has been a total joy & I could not be happier that’s she’s been awarded the UCL MAPS Faculty Postgraduate Prize for 2021. As her dissertation supervisor, I have to add that reading her dissertation was an absolute delight and on a parr with reading the best published writing that the multidiscipline of STS has to offer. Her work is grounded in social movements and contemporary politics, but simultaneously engages with complex STS theories in ways that provide new insights into science and society relationships. Her contributions to STS, in class, tutorials, the life of the department and in her writing will be cherished.”

Prof. Emma Tobin, Head of the Department, said:

“I am delighted that Maymana Arefin has been jointly awarded the UCL Faculty of Mathematical and Physical Sciences Postgraduate Taught Prize for 2021. Her work across our MSc programme was truly outstanding and often of publishable quality. Maymana took STS as a natural sciences student and has developed an outstanding trajectory in our field. Her work is a stunning example of the best kind of interdisciplinary work involving both natural sciences and STS. This has culminated in a highly sophisticated dissertation which proved her ability as an independent researcher in the field. Maymama is also our highest achieving BAME student. Congratulations Maymana, STS is very proud of you!”

In her response to being awarded the prize, Maymana Arefin stated:

Maymana sits on a set of steps with foliage in the background.
“I am incredibly honoured and grateful to have been awarded the MAPS Postgraduate Taught Prize for my research on mycorrhizal fungi, radical futures and care work. After an immensely challenging year, it feels very special to be recognised in this way. In particular, I am indebted to my wonderful supervisor, Professor Emily Dawson, and to my parents who have believed in me throughout. The subject of my work is urgent and I hope that it can inspire more radical, decolonial and feminist scholarship, both in the STS department, and across all of UCL.”