Alexander G. Melnikov

Office: INMS 3.05
Address: The Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Private Bag 102 904 NSMC Albany 0745 AUCKLAND

Welcome to my professional personal webpage. I am a Senior Lecturer in Massey University, Auckland. My research area is algebra and logic. See my survey papers for more information about my research.

Professional biography

In 2006 I graduated from The Department of Mechanics and Mathematics, Novosibirsk State University, at the age of 21. For those unfamiliar with the post-Soviet hierarchy of universities, this is one of the top two or three mathematics departments in Russia, and definitely the top logic school in Russia. I had the highest average score among all the 2006 graduates, which was the highest possible 5.0 out of 5.0. I thought maybe it was a sign, and I should try going to academia. Very soon I realised that doing research has almost nothing in common with undergraduate studies, but it was too late; I got addicted to research. In 2008 I defended a MSc thesis in Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science under the supervision of the famous Sergey S. Goncharov. In 2008, I moved to New Zealand to do a PhD with Bakhadyr Khoussainov and Andre Nies at The University of Auckland.

I much enjoyed working with both advisors who are excellent world-class mathematicians. Also, my wife Tanya and I greatly appreciated the prestigious University of Auckland International Doctoral Scholarship which both of us had during our PhD study in Auckland. Back then the University of Auckland had -- perhaps, still has -- a highly bizarre restriction on the size of a PhD thesis. It had to be at most 200 pages long, including references. I had no life during my PhD, and I ended up having enough material for almost two such theses. Sergey S. Goncharov suggested me to write and submit a Candidate of Science dissertation based on the extra material, and I did. Although it may sound like a smart decision, I would not recommend writing two theses simultaneously to anyone who wants to have some life beyond their office.

Shortly after my CSc defence in Russia, and a few months before my PhD confirmation in Auckland, I joined Nanyang Technological University as a postdoc. Tanya was a postdoc there as well; that was a perfect solution to the undecidable two-body problem! At NTU I worked mainly with Keng Meng Ng. We still collaborate a lot to this day. Since I was already working in Singapore, my PhD confirmation exam had to be done via Skype. The connection was terrible, but otherwise it was an interesting and memorable experience.

While I was working in Singapore I kept looking for job opportunities in New Zealand. This is the country that I love; I was dreaming of coming back. After one year in Singapore, I returned to New Zealand to work with Rod Downey and Noam Greenberg at Victoria University of Wellington. Both of them are world-class mathematicians, having had infinitely many Marsden grants and uncountably many postdocs who themselves are now professors at top universities around the globe.

As much as I enjoyed being a postdoc, it was the time for me to start worrying about a permanent job. Sadly, it was absolutely clear that New Zealand did not have enough jobs in mathematics, let alone pure mathematics. I applied for all of them, where "all'' means "two'', and I was lucky to get an offer from Massey. Around the same time I got a postdoc offer from UC Berkeley, which is considered by many the top logic school in the US. Thanks to Gaven Martin, Massey let me go to the US. After working with the gifted Antonio Montalban in California for about a year, I returned to New Zealand in 2015 to join Massey, Auckland. I am still here and I am not planning on moving in the foreseeable future, at least as of the date below.