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Manchester Students Research Conference

Hulme Hall
I attended the Mathematics Research Students’ Conference (MRSC) 2008 at Hulme Hall, University of Manchester (pictured above) and manned an IMA stall (pictured below). This was a good event and I met some interesting people, though I wasn’t able to attend any of the talks as I had a report to work on. It was useful to talk to postgraduates, who don’t often self organise in this way as undergraduates often do.

The conference had an interesting focus on accessibility of topics, so that research students would present talks in their research area targetted at those who were not experts in that area. There was also a poster session so that contributors could present a more research-focused view on their work.

IMA Stall

Manchester Mathsoc Ball

baloons and IMA sign at Mathsoc Ball
Today I attended first hour of the University of Manchester Mathsoc Ball. The Mathsoc recently made a successful application for a grant from the IMA to support their activities. I did some mingling and gave a short speech though I’m not sure most people could hear me in the large hall.

The students had printed a large banner with “Sponsored by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications” on it. This is a brilliant investment, since every Mathsoc event next year will have the same banner at it and this should produce a real awareness of the existence of the IMA amongst students at Manchester. Below is a close-up picture of the banner and a picture of the Mathsoc President Jonathan Emberey and I.

banner; reads: Sponsored by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
Jonathan Emberey and Peter Rowlett

IMA Sticker in the wild

While I was in Portsmouth I saw my first IMA sticker “in the wild”! (That is, a sticker I didn’t stick to something). This was on the door of Ann Heal at the University of Portsmouth. And when I mentioned it to other people at Portsmouth they had noticed it, which is really great to hear.

IMA Sticker on Ann Heal's door

Licence to practice mathematics

I intermittently read a webcomic xkcd, which is mostly teccy and sometimes mathsy jokes. One from a couple of weeks ago stikes me as funny: “Math Paper“. Also, the last frame reminds me of a sign I saw attached to the side of the Department of Mathematics at Bristol. I took a picture of this, (I didn’t take much time over this as it was raining pretty badly so the quality is not great, but I think you get the idea):

Sign reads: Maths Permit Holders Only

(for those grounded in reality, the sign was of course in the car park attached to the Department).

A purple door and more in Portsmouth

Portsmouth Department of Mathematics
Last week I visited the Department of Mathematics at Portsmouth University (pictured above). I was invited to do so by Nira Chamberlain, who is studying part time for a PhD there. I met with staff in the Department and visited the Purple Door (pictured below), where the careers service is based. The Mathematics Department has just moved into a new building and is rare in my experience in that in recent years it has been successful enough to split away to form its own Department where many mathematics departments are finding they are being swallowed into larger departments.

Portmouth's Purple Door
I travelled to Portsmouth and back in a day from Nottingham. This was a bit of an experiment. The travelling was 4 hours each way and I had about 4 hours in Portsmouth. I think this went well, my trip was sufficiently well organised so I could make effective use of that time. This meant I didn’t have the trouble of staying a night away from home and the IMA didn’t have to pay for the hotel, which is a bonus. I don’t think a trip over such distance would be possible in all circumstances but in this case I feel it worked well.

Dinner with the East Midlands Branch

On Saturday night I attended the IMA East Midlands Branch dinner. This was in Ruddington in Nottinghamshire, just a couple of miles from where I live. By contrast, others had travelled from around the region to attend: Derbyshire, Leicestershire, one chap had travelled from Alford in Lincolnshire, which must be a good couple of hours or more drive.

I have been on the Branch committee for the East Midlands Branch for about a year now. The meal was nice and it was good to see this active Branch working well.