10 out of 200: From classical ballet to modern mathematics – Dragana Radojičić makes sense of stock markets

BLOG: Heidelberg Laureate Forum

Laureates of mathematics and computer science meet the next generation
Heidelberg Laureate Forum

Meet Dragana Radojičić, mathematician and one of this year’s 10 out of 200 young researchers participating in the 7th Heidelberg Laureate Forum from September 22nd – 27th, 2019.

Photo courtesy of Dragana Radojičić

What are your name and nationality?
My name is Dragana Radojičić, and I was born and raised in Serbia.

Where did you study and where are you currently based?
I finished my  B. Sc. in mathematics at the faculty of mathematics, University of Belgrade. I received my M. Sc. in mathematics at the TU Berlin, as a scholarship holder of the Berlin Mathematical School (BMS). Moreover, as a member of the BMS graduate program, I took many courses on three big Universities in Berlin (TU, HU, and FU).

What is your current position?
I am currently a Ph.D. candidate at the Vienna University of Technology, where I also work as a teaching assistant at the Department for Financial and Actuarial Mathematics.

Photo: Kay Herschelmann

What is the focus of your research? What is your research project?
I work on mathematical modeling of the High-frequency trading, an important and challenging part of modern electronic markets. My project is to tackle this problem with two different approaches. The first one is a more theoretical point of view and is based on using adequate stochastic models to describe dynamics of the Limit Order Book (LOB). Moreover, I also employ machine learning techniques to get more insights from the market data and behavior of the market. My research is based on real market data from the past, more precisely on the high-frequency data set of the Nasdaq Stock Market (second-largest stock exchange in the world).

Why did you become a mathematician?
Although I always have had so many different interests and hobbies, math was something that I have had continuously been very good at and what I like to do the most. I can’t say that the decision I made was easy, but my BSc studies at the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Belgrade made me realize I was right to choose mathematics as a carrier path. Moreover, I enjoy doing math while listening to music, I think music genuinely helps me to keep focus.

What are some of the fundamental challenges you have faced in your academic career?
The main challenge that I have as a researcher is the uncertainty of success when dealing with challenging mathematical problems. But we have to keep working despite that.

What do you feel are the greatest pressures facing scientists today?
An adequate understanding of the environment and the lack of funding in developing countries.

What are you doing besides research?
When I was 4 I started dancing ballet, since then I have loved it and have danced it, but not professionally as I did before, now I train ballet as a hobby. Moreover, I try to spend my free time with my family and friends as much as possible. Apart from that, I enjoy reading, skiing, swimming, rollerblading and traveling

How did you hear about the HLF and why did you apply?
A few years ago I heard a very nice experience from some friends of mine. Then, my sister Nina attended the Forum last year, and she came back thrilled and with extremely amazing impressions. Moreover, I received an email with the call for application, and without a second thought, I started my application procedure

What do you expect from this meeting?
I expect to meet laureates and gain both knowledge and insights from their talks. Moreover, I am looking forward to meeting other young researchers from all over the world and exchange experiences with them. I expect to feel even more motivated to do my research after this meeting.

Which laureates present at the forum would you really like to talk to and what do you want to ask them?
It is hard to make a choice among so many great scientists. First and foremost, I am extremely excited to meet Martin Hairer who is an expert in stochastic analysis, a field that I am very interested in. Moreover, I would like to discuss the future of the digital age with Vinton Gray Cerf, known as one of “the fathers of the internet”. Furthermore, I hope to talk to Yoshua Bengio regarding some newly introduced machine learning techniques that have recently attracted my attention.

Who were your most important mentors and what lessons did they pass on to you?
Many people have influenced me during my education process and it is not possible for me to mention all the important mentors, so I will mention just two. My Ph.D. supervisor Thorsten Rheinländer has made a big influence on my research process and encouraged me to work on very interesting topics. Moreover, an important influence on my career path made my professor Antonis Papapanteleon whose course on financial mathematics I took during my master studies in Berlin and his perspective on this field has influenced my decision to pursue a Ph.D. in financial mathematics.

You used to have your own TV show in Serbia. How do you benefit as a young researcher from what you have learned during that time?
I believe it helped me improve my social skills, which is very important in the scientific world. I think developing a good relationship between co-workers is crucial for doing qualitative work and exchanging ideas and knowledge. Moreover, I hope that I will even more benefit from this experience since, in the future, I would like to work on promoting math for a wider audience and tend to change the incorrect stereotypes about mathematicians.

Jens-Steffen Scherer is a neuroscientist, science communicator, and moderator. Besides pursuing his Ph.D. at the University of Oldenburg, he works for the National Institute for Science Communication (NaWik) and the Südwestrundfunk (SWR). In 2018 Jens-Steffen won the 8th Science Slam of Oldenburg. LinkedIn

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