Mathematics Today August: University Liaison Officer’s Report

The following report is my report in Mathematics Today August.

The thought may or may not be welcome during the summer break, but the new intake of undergraduates will arrive shortly and my thoughts turn to engaging them with the IMA. A number of universities send out information to incoming students after A-Level results but before they arrive at university. I have received offers from some of the universities I have visited to include a letter from me in that mailing.

This letter will encourage students to participate in mathematical activities outside of their studies through that university (departmental events and undergraduate societies) and more widely through the IMA (Branches, Younger Mathematicians Conference and the overarching “Mathematics” conference). Of course, this will also promote student membership and resources such as the MathsCareers website.

Student members get access to the benefits of IMA membership at the much reduced rate of £10. I believe it could be useful to a university to have an undergraduate body with a good number of student members. Such a university will have a proportion of the undergraduate population receiving Mathematics Today and the eBulletin, and invitations to Branch events and IMA conferences. Such students are also demonstrating an inclination towards keeping in touch with the mathematics community and to their professional development as mathematicians beyond their studies. Such an arrangement would hopefully encourage a strong mathematical culture amongst the undergraduate body (more of which in the Student Section) and be beneficial for graduates.

If you are willing to distribute this letter to your students please get in touch ( and I will arrange to send you some copies.

Activities May-June 2008

In May I went to the University of Manchester for the Manchester Research Students Conference, a conference for research students with the interesting idea that talks are used to learn about an area of mathematics outside your own research. I also visited Cardiff for the Eighth Younger Mathematicians Conference; a popular event which I believe was enjoyed by all.

In June I attended the launch of the new West of England Branch at Kingswood School in Bath. This was a talk by Chris Budd on the theme of his article in the popular Industrial Mathematics special issue of Mathematics Today (February 2008) and was well attended. I spend some time at the University of Greenwich and I have just received a t-shirt from the MathSoc there. A set were printed with a grant from the IMA which will give the MathSoc increased awareness and will be sold to fund a print run of the revived MathSoc newsletter, ‘Prime Times’ and a further print run of t-shirts.

I visited the University of Oxford for the post-exams Maths Options Fair. This event was well attended and I handed students a sheet of information on the IMA and a copy of the article “Careers for Mathematicians” by Sue Briault from the student section of Mathematics Today June1. I attended a Maths, Stats and OR Network workshop on Graduate and Employability Skills, hosted by Dr. Stephen Hibberd at the Centre for Integrative Learning, University of Nottingham. This was an interesting and lively day and I met many enthusiastic workers in this area.

June also brought the Presidential Address of Prof. David Abrahams at the Royal Society, and I would encourage you to look out for this as he tours around the Branches. I rounded off June at the European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry – ECMI 2008 Conference, where I attended the opening day and welcome reception.

This period has also been a busy one for IMA meetings, and as well as reporting to Council and Executive Board I have attended meetings of several other committees. It is useful to get an overview of what the IMA does and to meet some of those who give so generously of their time to further the work of the Institute. I also had my six month steering and personnel reviews and I am happy to report these went well.

IMA on Facebook

A reminder that the IMA group on Facebook and the IMA Facebook App are linked to from the IMA Student page (not just for students!) at or search for “Institute of Mathematics and its Applications” on Facebook.

Student Section of Mathematics Today

In the Student Section this time is a piece by Shahzia Hussain of the Galois Group at the University of Manchester. Shahzia is an undergraduate with an impressive enthusiasm and energy for promoting mathematics. The Galois Group, her creation, is an impressive undertaking, especially on a voluntary basis alongside a mathematics degree and Shahzia is to be congratulated.


1. BRIAULT, S., 2008. Careers for Mathematicians. Mathematics Today, 44(3), pp. 117-118.

Careers for Mathematicians

In my report to Mathematics Today June, I mentioned that,

In the Student Section this issue is a piece adapted from a careers advice leaflet produced for mathematics students by Bath Careers Advisory Service by Sue Briault. I hope you will find this, as I did, packed with useful advice.

Careers for Mathematicians” is now available as a PDF through the IMA website Student page. It contains some useful careers advice targeted to mathematics students and graduates.

Distinguished Lecture in Computational Mechanobiology

Yesterday, I attended a lecture by IMA Distinguished Lecturer 2008, Manuel Doblaré of the Aragón Institute for Engineering Research, University of Zaragoza, as part of the MMBNOTT/MRM Summer Workshop in Mathematical Medicine and Biology at the University of Nottingham. The lecture was interesting and accessible even though I am not familiar with the area. The lecture covered Manuel’s work in Computational Mechanobiology, with several examples in modelling bone structure under mechanical stresses and biological considerations.

The IMA Distinguished Lecturer Programme supports visits to the United Kingdom and Ireland of eminent mathematicians from other countries, aiming to allow a wide number of UK mathematicians to meet and become familiar with the work of the Distinguished Lecturer. This certainly seemed to be happening from the lively discussions over tea and coffee that preceeded the lecture.

The photo below is of the Pope Building, where the lecture took place. Unusually, it is a photo of the “interior exterior” of the building, being an entirely contained exterior courtyard at the centre of the building.

Pope Building, University of Nottingham

ECMI 2008

I attended the first day of ECMI 2008 at University College, London. I’m afraid I got a bit too distracted by attending talks to take many pictures, so the one below will have to do. Perhaps I should title it “ECMI 2008 Opens Doors”?

I attended talks in the Maths and Society strand. These were interesting and thought-provoking. I attended the welcome reception in the evening but had to go home for other commitments later in the week. The conference was week long and I am told a good success.

Door to registration at ECMI

IMA Membership: An option for Oxford Mathematicians?

Last week I attended the Maths Options Fair at the University of Oxford. This is for third year undergraduates to consider their options and I was invited to this by Audrey Curnock of the Mathematical Institute so I could meet those students and make them aware of the IMA.

The event was well attended. I met a lot of students and gave them a leaflet about IMA membership and a copy of the article “Careers for Mathematicians” by Sue Briault from the June 2008 issue of Mathematics Today. This was generally well received as I believe it offers well balanced, realistic careers advise for mathematics graduates.

IMA stall at Oxford Maths Options Fair

The West of England

On Tuesday I attended the launch of a new IMA Branch: West of England. This is very pleasing as the Branches have the potential to be a huge benefit to members. The champions of this are Garrod Musto, Dr Alison Hooper and Edward Glennie. Garrod is Head of Mathematics at Kingswood Senior School in Bath and this is where the meeting took place.

The talk was by Professor Chris Budd of the University of Bath titled “Confessions of an Industrial Mathematician,” on the theme of his article of the same title in the Febuary 2008 issue of Mathematics Today. Chris is an excellent speaker and the talk was interesting, though I had to make an anxious dash at the end for a train!

Sponsorship for students to attend ECMI 2008

The following is an announcement from Amy Marsh, Conference Officer for the IMA. The IMA is this year organising the European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry (ECMI) Conference in London.

We are very pleased to announce that the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council has provided £3,000 to support students attending the European Consortium for Mathematics in Industry – ECMI 2008 Conference.

The funds will be used to provide sponsorship for 15 student registrations at the conference (excluding the conference dinner). These grants are not available to students who have already registered for the conference.

Applicants are requested to provide details of their name, area of study and a letter of support from their institution. Applications should include ECMI-EPSRC in the heading and should be sent to Successful students will be chosen at random from applications received before 6 June 2008. All applicants will be notified whether they are successful or not.

These grants are only available to students studying at a UK institution.