Sheffield SIAM-IMA Conference 2021

Sheffield SIAM-IMA Conference 2021

August 25 2021

Sheffield SIAM-IMA Conference 2021 was a conference to showcase the efforts of early career researchers and students working in different areas across applied mathematics. It was good to see the wide variety of mathematical applications, with surprising appearances including category theory and topology in theoretical economics!

The day of the conference I attended began with an introduction from the head of the School of Mathematics and Statistics at Sheffield Nick Monk and president of the Sheffield student SIAM-IMA chapter Bryony Moody. Erica Tyson gave an overview of the IMA (Institute of Mathematics and its Applications), what it does and how to become a member. Highlighted in these introductions was the important mathematical work being done all the time, but which has especially been highlighted in media recently due to the pandemic.

One talk that stood out to me in particular was the first talk of the day on elastic metasurfaces and how they can be used to protect buildings from earthquakes (and many other applications!). It was delivered by recent doctoral graduate Gregory Chaplain, and the from the level of detail given in answers to challenging questions it was clear he had spent a lot of time getting to grips with the material. It was quite inspiring to think that by the end of the AAPS CDT programme, we as students will have the same depth of knowledge in our area of expertise.

It was also my first time presenting at a conference; however, it was a familiar feeling given the amount of presenting experience I’ve enjoyed throughout the MRes. Overall, it was a great experience, although I was hoping for a couple more questions to really test me!

One of the highlights of the day was the final session on careers in industry for mathematicians and statisticians, which began with a presentation from Matt Allcock, a space weather researcher working for EDF. It was insightful, especially in breaking down the idea that post-PhD there is only “academia” and “industry”, when in fact there are a plethora of options both within these broad areas and in completely different fields. As well as being incredibly informative, the description of a mathematical approach towards career planning was very entertaining!

It was also eye-opening to hear the different career histories of the academics present, many of whom have not had linear paths to get to where they are. Emphasis was placed on the value of placements as a way to inform career decisions, whether short-term or long-term (whilst also bearing in mind the demands of the PhD itself and not spreading oneself too thin). Overall, the conference was a really positive and encouraging experience, and I can’t wait until the next one!

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