Would you like to work with me?
If you want to do a PhD in Applied Mathematics you need to be able to make an impression on a potential PhD advisor at the university of your choice. One of the stepping stones of this is having high marks in your courses, especially the ones that are relevant to the discipline. There is no particular recipe, but a keen interest in the mathematics, evidenced by asking questions outside of class, attending seminars and colloquia and generally making a spectacle of yourself is especially useful in showing independent initiative.
If you have read this far and still want to work with me then I have a few more suggestions that would prepare you. My philosophy has always been that real-life problems are fertile ground for difficult new problems that are also relevant to society. I think this latter part is essential and I regularly attend problem solving workshops around the globe to stimulate this interest. One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to try to develop as broad a background in many disciplines. Realize that the language of mathematics forms the backbone of science and knowing how to extract the essence of a problem will allow you to make fundamental contributions across disciplines. If you want to get a taste of this check out the wonderful book by Sam Howison: Practical Applied Mathematics, Cambridge, 2005 which I use for the senior course in Industrial Mathematics. This illustrates the richness of applied mathematics through the use of case studies. If you are feeling particularly ambitious then also consider the book Mathematical Models in the Applied Sciences by Andrew Fowler. What I especially like about this book is the wide variety of applications in industry, the environment and life sciences and the depth to which they are taken.
Currently: I have recently finished with one MSc student and I’m currently looking for a PhD student and an MSc student to start in 2013. Please stop by and speak to me face-to-face if you are a student in Applied Mathematics and looking for a graduate supervisor. I’m always willing to give advice.
Some final advice. Curiosity coupled with a sense of exploration is key to becoming successful and relevant in modern applied mathematics. If you happen to know the author David Foster Wallace and have read or heard his commencement address to the graduating class at Kenyon College in 1995 entitled This Is Water, you will know what I mean when I say that Applied and Industrial Mathematics is my water. Good luck and I hope to hear from you soon.