The complexity of financial markets means great risk for investors. Dr Christina Nikitopoulos Sklibosios’ advanced mathematical models empower better understanding of the behaviour of markets for the exchange or sale of goods for greater predictability and stability.
“Commodity derivatives markets have experienced explosive growth in the last 10 years and have become an important component of current financial investment and management practices,” explains Christina. “I develop models for pricing and hedging commodity derivatives markets, and in particular their volatility. I then conduct empirical studies in crude oil and gold markets that can help us understand the characteristics and the drivers of this volatility, thus allowing us to better monitor and manage it.”
Christina’s study is one of the first to use mathematical modelling to capture the complex structure of commodity derivatives. Her published findings are widely cited and deliver critical information to traders and investors on how they can expect these markets to behave and how to respond to changing market conditions. This has significant potential to improve investment outcomes and economic stability.
Born here but raised in her parents’ native Greece, Christina returned to Australia to complete her PhD at UTS — and never left.
“I have been with UTS for all of 25 years now, from being a student to working as a research assistant, completing my PhD and securing a position,” she says. “I feel very fortunate to have been part of the evolution of UTS. As a young university, it is forward-looking with fresh ideas; you can see that a lot of effort goes into putting these ideas in place, communicating them and supporting staff — both individually and towards shared goals.”
As a young university, it is forward-looking with fresh ideas; you can see that a lot of effort goes into putting these ideas in place, communicating them and supporting staff — both individually and towards shared goals.
With two sons — now teenagers — born during her PhD studies, Christina values the flexibility, support and understanding UTS offers to parents and carers.
“I have always known that I had a lot of support, both from my supervisors and through the university’s broader communications on where to access support if you needed it,” she says. “UTS staff also have preferential access to the two on-campus childcare centres, and it was great to be able to have my sons so close to the office when they were young.”
Christina says the new Frank Gehry-designed UTS Business School building is an inspiring place to work, with its facilities designed to offer boundless opportunities to innovate in teaching and learning. As an educator, she is energised by engaging her students in practice-oriented learning that relates theory to real-world problems. She is a passionate and committed mentor to PhD students and enjoys helping them identify and develop their own contributions to research. She hopes that her own research success will inspire other young women to traverse the barriers of the traditionally male-dominated sector.
“We are starting to see more female students coming into this research area,” she says. “I have personally benefited from strong mentors and the encouragement of my academic supervisors, and I try to pay this forward by supporting other female researchers in the field.”
Photographer: Laura Oxley