The SIAM Annual Meeting 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
(2017-08-13, Sören Schwenker)
Thanks to an invitation by SIAM and generous additional funding by Universität Hamburg I had the opportunity to represent the SIAM Student Chapter Hamburg at the SIAM Annual Meeting 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. The meeting was co-located with the SIAM Workshop on Network Science 2017 as well as the SIAM Conference on Industrial and Applied Geometry 2017 and the SIAM Conference on Control and Its Applications 2017.
Bringing together leading experts in various fields of applied mathematics and representatives from industry and governmental organizations, the annual meeting gave me the chance to learn more about cutting-edge research in a broad spectrum of mathematical as well as career related topics. A large number of plenary talks, short talks and highly specialized minisymposia together with the high quality of most of the presentations often made it hard to decide what to attend, whom to hear speak or what discussion to follow. I mainly focused on the Annual Meeting and the Workshop on Network Science but also took the opportunity to gain insight into areas outside of my own scope of research by attending sessions or talks from the other conferences. There were talks on Pattern Formation, Sheaf Theory, Climate Science, Decision-making in Bio-inspired Dynamics, Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations, Coupled Oscillators, Power Grids and many more just to mention some of the covered topics and to illustrate the broad spectrum that was offered. Another key feature were events directed at professional development and different career paths for example in the form of a career fair, where companies presented themselves to interested attendees or discussion panels with mathematicians in different positions in academia, industry or government.
One of my personal highlights was the plenary talk "From Flatland to Our Land: A Mathematician's Journey through Our Changing Planet" by Emily Shuckburgh. She applies mathematics in climate science with a focus on climate change but also does fieldwork for example by participating in Antarctic explorations. In her talk she investigated different parts of the earth's climate system with various mathematical techniques. She also provided interpretations of the results and included some strong messages on the change of our climate and measures taken to combat it.
Apart from letting other people present their results to me, I also participated actively in the meetings myself. I had the opportunity to present my own research to the community in the form of two posters, one at the Annual Meeting and one at the Workshop on Network Science. Being in the second year of my PhD, this was a great and very important opportunity to make my work known to a broader audience in order to find possible collaborators or just to open their minds to other interesting areas of mathematics. And even though the topic of my research did not match the focal points of the conferences perfectly, I got into a lot of interaction, obtained lots of positive feedback and very interesting remarks.
Probably the most exciting feature of my attendance of the Annual Meeting was my role as Student Chapter Representative. A whole part of the meeting, the Student Days, was especially designed for student attendees. It started off with an icebreaker session the day before the meeting began. This allowed me to get to know other students and made for some very interesting new contacts. I have spent most of the week and even some of the spare time in the evenings with people I have met at the icebreaker. The Student Chapter Representatives were invited to several special sessions where we had the opportunity to meet the invited speakers and talk to them about their work. But the central event was the breakfast together with the SIAM leadership. Representatives from all over the world came together and discussed the activities of their chapters, exchanged ideas and got to know the leadership of the organization that brought all of us together in Pittsburgh.
After one week of scientific and social events I returned to Hamburg with a bag full of souvenirs and lots of new experiences and plenty new ideas for activities of our SIAM Student Chapter. I have met interesting people and was able to present my work to applied mathematicians from widespread areas of research. I would like to thank SIAM for the invitation, Universität Hamburg for the generous funding and our SIAM Chapter for choosing me to be their Student Chapter Representative.