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Mathematics Today June 2010: University Liaison Officer’s Report

Where do I go from here?

As we come to the end of the academic year I find myself reflecting on my travels over the year, particularly as these relate to my plans for next year. There follows a list of universities I have visited this year, either to give a lecture or stand at a maths careers fair. My best information suggests this represents two thirds of UK universities with a mathematics degree programme. If you are a staff member or student at a university that is not mentioned on this list, please consider contacting me to see if we can work together.

I keep meeting staff at universities who are surprised that I am able to take the time to come and speak to their students. To be clear: my intention is that I offer to speak at any university with mathematics students in the country. My time is allocated for these lectures on a first come first served basis, with an attempt to arrange visits to several nearby universities in one trip for the sake of efficiency. It may be that I am in contact with someone at your university and we haven’t been able to find a mutually convenient time for a visit, or perhaps I simply don’t know anyone at your university. Some visits are arranged through the mathematics department, while others are directly with a student group or through the careers service. If a visit has been arranged, this may have been arranged by a student who is no longer around so it is still worth contacting me. Even if a visit is not possible to every university I would like to have some level of IMA involvement in every mathematics department in the country. As well as lectures we have leaflets we can distribute and a range of opportunities, including a grants programme, for student groups.

In the 2009/10 academic year I have given 49 IMA lectures and operated 5 IMA stalls at careers fairs, and in doing so I have spoken to over 1900 students and 120 staff at 46 universities this year. 34 of the lectures were my ‘Careers for mathematicians’; the remaining 15 were on mathematical topics. I currently offer lectures on ‘Puzzles’, ‘Cryptography’, ‘Chance & coincidence’ and ‘Spin in ball games’. We call these ‘Clement W. Jones Lectures’ in honour of Professor Clement W. Jones CMath FIMA, whose bequest of £20,000 helped fund the University Liaison initiative.

This academic year I have visited the following universities: Aberdeen, Aberystwyth, Bath, Bolton, Brighton, Bristol, Brunel, Cardiff, Derby, Dundee, Durham, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Greenwich, Heriot-Watt, Imperial College, Keele, Kent, Kingston, Lancaster, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores, London Met, LSE, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Newcastle, Northumbria, Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Oxford, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield, Southampton, St. Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde, Surrey, Swansea, UEA, UWE and York. A further six universities which I did not visit this year were represented by undergraduates at the Tomorrow’s Mathematicians Today conference at Greenwich: Birkbeck, Cambridge, QMUL, Royal Holloway, UCL and Warwick.

If you are interested in arranging a lecture, particularly if your university is not on this list, please email me on peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk or say hello on Twitter @peterrowlett.

Activities March-April 2010

March was an active period of visits to universities. I visited the West of England and gave my careers talk at Bristol, UWE and Bath, where on the advice of the Head of School I took an enjoyable walk down the hill back to the town. I gave the same talk at Brunel. Some readers may remember my praise of the maths careers fair at York in the February issue of Mathematics Today and I was happy to give the opening talk at the fair this year and gave my careers talk at Leeds in the same trip. At the end of term I travelled to Aberystwyth and gave my Cryptography talk.

April was mostly taken up with the Easter vacation, with some universities returning for two or three weeks of teaching at the end of April and beginning of May. I gave my lecture on Cryptography at Derby. At Surrey I found a large audience, mostly of first year students taking an interest in their future at an unusually early point in their university career. This was particularly pleasing as most of them had finished an exam just an hour before my talk!

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