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Mathematics Today October: University Liaison Officer’s Report

As I have been on leave over much of the rainy summer, I wrote a shorter than usual report for Mathematics Today October.

I am happy to report the IMA Younger Members Committee has taken enthusiastically to the Facebook group and has set up groups on other social networking sites LinkedIn and MySpace. Those of you who are on one of those online communities can join the IMA group and get involved. You should be able to find the group by searching “Institute of Mathematics and its Applications UK”.

For other online activities, October will see the launch of a new podcast, Travels in a Mathematical World. This will feature a series of pieces from people I have met on my travels as ULO. Interesting mathematicians talk about their careers and interesting work they have done. There will be travels in time as well as space with a monthly maths history feature from Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and the British Society for the History of Mathematics. Finally we will round off each month with a maths news roundup from Sarah Shepherd, editor of iSquared magazine (incidentally, look out for the IMA adverts on the back covers of upcoming issues of iSquared). You can subscribe to the podcast by visiting

Activities JulyAugust 2008

This is a brief report as I have been taking my annual leave during August while the universities are on their rainy summer break. I have been making the most of my time away however with an email going to heads of mathematics departments nationwide. This suggests activities where I can work with universities and I have had contact from several new student mathematics societies as a result. If you are in touch with such a group please ask them to email me at and we can see how we can work together.

I have also sent a survey to the IMA University Representatives. These are staff in universities who deal with the graduate recruitment exercise, receive copies of Mathematics Today for student and staff common rooms and administer IMA Prizes. I am collecting views on the graduate activities so we can try to have our best shot at recruitment at the end of the academic year. If you have any such views please contact me on

Podcast: Episode 0 – Prelude

This is the first in a series of posts on this blog which are show notes for the Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. As episode 0 is a test, so is this post. Regular posts will contain links to further reading related to the episode of the podcast.

You can subscribe to the podcast and automatically download future episodes by visiting

You can find out more about my work with the IMA at

The Sound of His Own Voice

In my travels so far, I have been recording short interviews/monologues from interesting mathematicians talking about their career and/or an interesting piece of mathematics they have worked on. I have also collected a few maths history pieces on famous historical mathematicians from Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and the British Society for the History of Mathematics. I will be releasing these in the new academic year as a podcast, along with a monthly maths news roundup from Sarah Shepherd, editor of iSquared magazine.

It’s funny how difficult it is to sit on your own in a room talking to yourself, knowing that you’re recording it. I found that part way through a sentance my voice would stop and the words would carry on in my head. It was a real strain to force the words out so they could be recorded. Plus there’s a certain shrinking away – what if someone listened to the recording? Of course, this is the idea, but quite shy-making, nonetheless. I think you can hear if you listen to the prelude I recorded that on the two previous attempts I have given up part way through the word “Travels” at the start. This time I stumble but force myself through it and ramble off the rest of what I need to say. I’m sure practice will help!

I hope to launch episode 1 in October. Until then you can listen to episode 0, the prelude and so check you have subscribed to the podcast successfully ready to download the first episode next month. Link: Travels in a Mathematical World podcast. The next post will be the first in a series of show notes for the podcast – posts on this blog that accompany each episode.

iSquared Magazine Autumn

I have designed adverts to go on the back cover of iSquared Magazine in the next 4 issues. Each highlights an aspect of IMA membership and will provide a regular income to support iSquared, something the IMA are keen to do. The first advert concentrates on recreational mathematics. The advert is below, click on it to see a larger version. Unfortunately the version in the magazine contains printing errors (some misaligned text). The IMA have received an apology from iSquared and we are working to make sure this doesn’t happen next time.


In response to a recent idle query, I have had a play with Google Maps and come up with a rough figure for the number of miles I have travelled as University Liaison Officer. If this is of interest, I have placed a mileometer in the sidebar to the right and will try to update this from time to time. The current figure is 7545 after nearly 9 months of travel.

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.