The inaugural Mathematics Research Communities (MRC) summer conferences, Teichmüller Theory and Low-Dimensional Topology, Scientific Computing and Advanced Computation and Computational Algebra and Convexity, were held at the Snowbird Resort in Utah, June 14-27. The week-long conferences drew 80 early-career mathematicians. These conferences were the first in this new AMS program that will include special sessions at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, a longitudinal study, and a continuation of the connections and collaborations via an electronic network.
This year's conferences:
"Looking back at that week I must say I loooooooved the workshop! I've learned so much, the format was great, the hike in the middle of the week was great too. Really, the best thing of all was to let us go at the pace we needed to understand things. Also having Eisenbud give a short open-problem talk *at the end* of the workshop I think gave all of us an idea of what we might want to do with the material we just learned... I'm going to have two projects with two workshop participants, and our conversations were inspired by the evening talks." --- Sonja Petrovic (University of Kentucky)
"It was awesome. The format of ours I think was perfect for what were intending to do (i.e. work through some exciting new papers). In particular I thought it was nice that we broke up into different small groups each day....because as a result each person sort of had a different combined set of things that they "really understood" about the paper." --- Sonja Mapes (Columbia University)
"This was a really different kind of conference. The participants played a huge part, giving all the formal lectures and also casually discussing math. I felt like people thrived in this atmosphere because everyone had an important role." --- Genevieve Walsh (Tufts University), co-organizer of the Teichmüller Theory and Low-Dimensional Topology session
"This was a great session. The quantity and quality of mathematical and professional discussions among the participants seemed very high. I'm looking forward to seeing many of the students/postdocs at the Annual meeting in January. Also, it was fun." --- Abby Thompson (UC Davis), co-organizer of the Teichmüller Theory and Low-Dimensional Topology session
"It was great to have a chance to work with such a talented and enthusiastic group of young researchers. The relatively unstructured and informal nature of the program presented an opportunity for people to really get to know one another and work together rather than just sitting in lectures together. My only regret is that I wasn't young enough to last much beyond midnight in the hospitality suite." --- Randall J. LeVeque (University of Washington), co-organizer of the Scientific Computing & Advanced Computation session
"After a few days at the Snowbird conference, whenever there was some free time in the program, the participants would gather on their own in small groups to work together. A real mathematics community in action. It was really heart-warming for the organizers." --- Francis Bonahon (University of Southern California), co-organizer of the Teichmüller Theory and Low-Dimensional Topology session
"I think that one of the things that worked very well at the conference was that all of the young mathematicians had a chance to discuss their results, and the mathematics they are interested in. One hopes that this will help establish a community of mathematicians who have common interests and that will help further their research careers. --- Howard Masur (University of Illinois at Chicago), co-organizer of the Teichmüller Theory and Low-Dimensional Topology session
"It was exciting to see the energy and enthusiasm that the meeting seemed to unleash in the participants. If only there were more hours in the day..." --- David Eisenbud (University of California, Berkeley), chair of the Advisory Board for the MRC Program
|Participants illustrate the cone of Betti tables that they have been studying.
|The Scientific Computing group had a project where the participants broke up into small groups and wrote grant proposals to a mythical government agency (the "Department of Computational Sciences", or DOCS). Everyone worked very hard, gave presentations and were grilled by the three organizers. Afterwards, the organizers announced that the funding had been withdrawn from the solicitation--too bad!--but that everyone would get $1, their first grant money.
The MRC summer conferences are funded by the National Science Foundation, for an initial period of three years. Read more about the Society's MRC program in "Building a Research Career: Mathematics Research Communities," by Allyn Jackson (Notices of the AMS, February 2008, p. 247).