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Mathematics Today April: University Liaison Officer’s Report

Graduate Recruitment Scheme

In the previous issue of Mathematics Today I reported some results on the uptake of IMA Prizes. This time I turn my attention to the more general graduate recruitment picture. Each year the IMA sends out Graduate Recruitment packs, essentially a letter of introduction to the IMA and an application form at AMIMA grade. Contact is made with universities as soon as possible after Christmas to discover how many graduates the university expects to have in the current year. The appropriate number of packs are then sent to universities to be distributed. What happens next is of some interest to me.

Last year I conducted a survey of IMA Representatives to attempt to discover the process of the Graduate Recruitment Exercise once it extends beyond Catherine Richards House and how we might improve its effectiveness. I would like to express here my gratitude to the 27 respondents (a 36% response rate). One issue that had been raised verbally with me and with the Membership Department is the timing of arrival of the Graduate Recruitment packs. In the past these have often arrived over the Easter break. At some universities, after Easter the students only have revision and exams and are rarely in contact with staff to receive the packs. In my survey 20 people answered the question “Please rate the timing of the arrival of the graduate recruitment packs”. Only five of these regarded the packs as arriving “too late” and 15 reported the timing was “just right”. Nevertheless, the Membership Department are working to ensure the packs are sent out prior to Easter.

Another, more problematic issue may be that of how to get the packs to the students. When I graduated from the University of Nottingham I received a letter from Dr. Stephen Hibberd suggesting I join the IMA which accompanied the graduate pack. I have since discovered that Stephen (uniquely) takes it upon himself to write an alternative covering letter which contains similar content to the IMA letter but is written by a known, local academic and is on Nottingham headed paper. This gives an additional legitimacy and impact to the graduate recruitment pack that I think is advantageous although obviously the administrative burden this places on the department could be considerable and we cannot expect that departments will devote resources to this. Under data protection law we cannot simply receive a list of students and do the administration at the IMA end so we are reliant on the generosity of departments.

In my survey I asked “How do you distribute the packs to students?” and there were 25 responses to this question. Five respondents send the packs to students through the post; four of these to the home address, which seems in many ways to be the best possible outcome for the IMA. Two respondents include the packs in existing graduate or leaver packs that are issued to students. Where such packs exist, this would seem to be an efficient yet effective solution. A further five respondents send the packs to students via departmental pigeon holes. I do not know how effective this will be; my own memory is not of checking my undergraduate maths pigeonhole frequently. Nine universities hand packs to students in lectures. This approach has been described to me as problematic since it is not usual for all final year students to be present in a single class. With overlap between module choices a lot of departments find they are not sure which students have been given a pack. The final four respondents leave the packs in a common room or other area for the students to collect. With this option I am concerned that the packs may not be collected by students. However this is a method that takes the least department time and since we are relying on volunteer activity we are thankful for any attempt that can be made.

A strong comment that comes through from the survey responses and conversations with academic staff on this issue is that the most efficient and effective solution to this would be to have an email introduction to an online form. Sending an email around the students does not have such an administrative or cost burden (at either end) as does the distribution of physical packs and an online form is widely believed to be essential for modern students to participate. Also, such an electronic approach could be promoted through multiple channels whereas the printing of multiple forms for each student is not efficient. At present this option is not available to us and this is a shame. The IMA membership form is available via the IMA student webpage at www.ima.org.uk/student so students could be encouraged to join this way, although the form must still be printed and sent in by post.

Why am I so interested in what happens to the graduate recruitment packs? The final issue with the packs is that students/graduates tend to think “Who are these people?” and throw the pack in the recycling. I know I did. Looking at numbers, the IMA has sent out somewhere between 4,000-5,500 packs a year over the last 12 years (declining as student numbers have declined over this period). A decade ago in 1999 the number of packs resulting in applications was 4.1% of packs sent. I am not sure whether to regard 4.1% as an acceptable return for this kind of activity. Remember the graduate packs are not direct marketing for a company or product. Quite apart from any academic or social interest, this is about joining the only UK professional body for qualified and practicing mathematicians. I think this should be a natural sale for most graduates, even those whose academic interest lies with other learned societies.

Returning to the present, the 2008 data shows that 1.9% of packs were returned as applications for membership. Actually, the data over the period (table 1) shows this is not a fluke result but the figure has been this low since the early 2000s. Presumably there will be a year on year fluctuation but this seems to show a trend, with percentage of packs resulting in applications declining to around 50% of their value a decade ago. It is hard to say what may have caused this; the world is a different place than it was ten years ago and there are several obvious issues including the personal finances of new graduates. We can hope some will join later on in their careers.

1997

1998

1999

2000

Applications as % of number of packs sent

3.4%

3.9%

4.1%

3.0%

2001

2002

2003

2004

3.9%

2.9%

1.7%

1.9%

2005

2006

2007

2008

1.5%

1.9%

1.8%

1.9%

Table 1 – Number of applications as percentage of graduate recruitment packs sent

I see it as my main activity in practice to increase the chances that students will have heard of the IMA and perhaps even know a little of its work and the benefits of membership when they receive the graduate recruitment pack so that pack is more effective. I am interested in what happens to the graduate recruitment packs because the whole premise of my work for the IMA is founded on the principle that we have an excellent system for offering new graduates the opportunity to join the Institute. Together we give them the opportunity; I must give them a motive! I hope you will share my concern over the return of graduate recruitment packs. If we continue to attract only around 1.9% of graduates per year (80 people in 2008) to join the ranks of our 5,000-strong membership, we can expect some troubling times ahead for the Institute. I hope you will join me in trying to ensure your students have heard of the IMA before they receive the packs and making sure that as many packs as possible actually reach the hands of your students this year.

Activities Jan-Feb 2009

January and February 2009 have been a very active period. I have had time over the winter to make contact with universities and student groups for the new academic year and the period at the start of the calendar year is key to engaging with them before the Easter holiday, exams and the long summer break. In consultation with my steering group I have decided to attend less IMA meetings such as Executive Board and use the time to engage more actively with students.

Part of my role is to give Clement W. Jones Lectures on careers and popular maths topics. I have given a careers talk at the following universities in January and February: Greenwich, Bristol, UWE, Brunel, Cardiff, Aberdeen, St. Andrews, Glasgow, Strathclyde, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh. In total around 400 students have seen this talk in this period as well as careers staff at 7 universities. All the careers staff I have spoken to have been supportive of what I have said in my talk and some have even said they have picked up some information they did not previously know on mathematics. This is excellent news as these people are on the front line of graduate careers advice so to help inform them of resources such as the Maths Careers website and IMA Careers Advice leaflet, as well as the existence of the IMA is a marvellous opportunity to reach a wide range of graduates. My work in engagement with careers advisors continues through liaison with Julie Hepburn of Cardiff University and Julie sent an email on my behalf in this period highlighting the work the IMA is doing in promoting good careers advice for mathematicians.

My travels in this period included a most enjoyable week in Scotland. While there I gave a talk to the Scottish Branch of the IMA which covered the background to the University Liaison initiative, the majority of the content from my careers talk and some of the methods I am using to engage with as many students as possible from a part time role. Although I didn’t have a lot of free time I did manage to take the opportunity to seek out the new statue of James Clerk Maxwell in Edinburgh (pictured).

I operated an IMA stall at a Maths & Stats careers event at the University of Plymouth with my usual assortment of mathematical puzzles and careers advice leaflets (pictured). I gave a talk on spin in ball games such as pool, golf and tennis followed by a chance to play these games on a Nintendo Wii at Greenwich. The opportunity to play doubles Wii Tennis on a large screen in a lecture theatre is a popular draw and I am grateful to the University of Greenwich for helping me trial this format. Last time in Mathematics Today Student Section we heard from Felix Rehren of the University of Birmingham Mathsoc about their plans to use an IMA University Liaison Grant to fund after-talk networking events and I attended the inaugural event following a talk by Dr. Christopher Sangwin drawn from his book with John Bryant, “How Round Is Your Circle?”

I visited my counterpart at the Institute of Physics (IOP), Mischa Stocklin, and we compared notes on engagement with students and younger members. This was a learning experience for both of us and I would like particularly to report Mischa’s appreciation of the work the IMA has done in encouraging our Younger Members Group and its activities.

As you read this, I will be entering a period of lowered activity as many students settle down to revision on their return from the Easter break. If you feel that your students would benefit from an IMA talk, either on careers or a popular maths topic, during the remainder of the academic year please get in touch. Not many universities have availability now before October so I will be looking to book engagements. I will also be interested in filling my calendar for the next academic year. You can email me at peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk.

You can find out more about my work on the University Liaison initiative by visiting the IMA Student page or reading my blog, both via: www.ima.org.uk/student. If you are even more interested in what I do you can also now follow me on Twitter and my Twitter updates are used to update my Facebook status so either follow me at twitter.com/peterrowlett or add me as a friend on Facebook.

Mathematics Today February: University Liaison Officer’s Report

IMA Prize Winners

IMA Prizes are awarded in UK universities which offer mathematics degrees, at the discretion of the university. In 2008 I conducted a survey of Prize giving practice among IMA University Representatives (27 responses; a 37% rate). All respondents awarded Prizes on some measure of academic excellence (all 22 who answered that question), either overall mark, or mark in an individual exam, project or coursework. Besides being recognition of academic excellence, the Prize also includes free IMA membership for one year.

Now for the shocking news. Caroline Irwin, who many of you will know as Manager of the Membership Department, has put together some data for me on uptake of the free membership included with an IMA Prize and on the renewal rates of Prize Winners in their second year of membership. The numbers do not make comfortable reading. The number of Prize Winners claiming their free membership is down towards 40%. I find this very difficult to understand: the Prize Winner has the offer of free membership and all they have to do is fill out an application form! Further, the number of those Prize Winners claiming free membership who renew for the second year stands around one quarter. So six out of every ten IMA Prize Winners don’t join the IMA at all and nine out of ten IMA Prize Winners are not IMA members by the second year after receiving their award. Think about this: if you gave out IMA Prizes this year, it is very likely one of the two Prize Winners didn’t claim their free membership. Even if either did, it is very unlikely either of them will be an IMA member by 2010.

I was asked recently whether I think it is worthwhile for the IMA to continue to award Prizes, given the cost to the Institute and relatively poor results. I believe Prize Giving can be a valuable activity for the Prize Winners, universities and the IMA and I will try to explain why.

In November, I was welcomed at King’s College, London to attend the Prize Giving ceremony. I met one of the IMA Prize Winners, Janine Walker. It is not a criticism of King’s particularly, but I found Janine completely unaware of the IMA or of what she had won. I explained who the IMA are and the benefits of membership and she seemed enthusiastic about her award. I sincerely hope she went home, filled in the application form and is reading this article (Hello, Janine!). IMA Prizes are awarded at over 70 universities to, usually, two graduates at each. From the point of view of the IMA, this is a lot of Prizes to administer. However, if you consider there are around 4,500 graduates of mathematics each year, Janine can claim to be in a minority of around 3%. I hope she will claim proudly on her CV that she is an IMA Prize Winner and point out: “IMA Prizes are awarded based on academic excellence to around 3% of graduates each year.” This is a good way for her to put her head above the crowd. Since the Prize brings with it free IMA membership for one year, she can also claim to be a member of the IMA and thus committed to her ongoing development. I feel sure the claim to be an outstanding graduate with a commitment to professional development beyond the lecture theatre would be an enticing one for a prospective employer.

I believe the benefits of the free membership go beyond simple CV enhancement. I didn’t join the IMA on graduation for cost reasons (and lack of awareness) but I revisited this two years later and joined. Prize Winners are awarded a free year and this is a kick-start to membership not offered to most graduates. As a member, the Prize Winner can begin to tap into the networking, mathematical interest and career development opportunities which can bring value to a member for their whole career, if they choose to make the most of their membership. So I believe the power of the Prize as a gentle prod in the right direction should not be overlooked.

Besides the benefits to the individual Prize Winner, I believe Prizes can offer value to the universities that award them. Making students aware in the early stage of their degrees that awards are available for academic excellence and the benefits receiving such an award can have on their careers should help foster a culture of attainment. Indeed, respondents to my questionnaire have told me they value the IMA Prizes. As for the IMA, besides attracting Prize Winners to membership, being presented as a mark of excellence among the student population has to be good news in attracting all students and graduates to membership.

So what can we do to make sure everyone gets the most out of Prize Giving?

I think it is important that the general undergraduate population is aware of the IMA Prizes. Some respondents to my survey said that their university just prints a list of Prize Winners and sticks this on a notice board. I would like to see universities making a bit of a show of their Prize Winners. This is a genuinely worthwhile award if understood and used to its potential, both as recognition of achievement and as a fast-track introduction to the wider mathematical community offered by the IMA. If you work at a university where IMA Prizes are awarded in some ceremony (during graduation or a separate awards ceremony) and think it would be good to have an IMA representative in attendance please let me know and I will see what I can do (peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk). If I attend 70-odd Prize Giving ceremonies a year I will never have time to do the rest of my job, but I feel optimistic that we will be able to find a member who is willing to represent the IMA.

I think it is important also that we work to ensure Prize Winners are aware of the benefits of what they have won (and of the benefits of membership to new members generally). Like most things in life, IMA membership is more valuable the more you try to get something out of it. If you work in a university, try to impress on your students and graduates the value of IMA membership. Outside universities, remember when you meet young mathematicians to find out if they are members of the IMA. If they aren’t, they should join! If they are, they might need a little push to get involved with the activities of the Institute. The Younger Mathematicians Conferences are an excellent place for early career mathematicians to start and I am always pleased to meet Younger Members who have been encouraged by their employer to attend these (perhaps with payment of travel expenses). The 2009 conferences are on 16 May in Oxford and 14 November in Birmingham. More details are available on the IMA website and there is a link on the student page at www.ima.org.uk/student.

Activities Nov-Dec 2008

I visited London to attend the 9th Younger Mathematicians Conference. This was an enjoyable event as always and an excellent chance to catch up with early career mathematicians and students. A group of undergraduates from the Greenwich MathSoc (University Liaison Grant recipients) attended. The Conference heard from mathematicians working in mathematical finance and topics such as the maths of Google, the restoration of the Cutty Sark and much more. A conference report is being prepared for Mathematics Today so I will say no more.

As I mentioned above, I attended the IMA Prize Giving at King’s College, London. This was a separate event from graduation and involved an Awards Ceremony of 45 minutes in which a range of Prizes across Engineering, Computer Science, Mathematics and Physics were awarded. This was followed by a wine and nibbles reception where I was able to meet one of the Prize Winners, Janine Walker (pictured) and her family.

You might remember that the University Liaison project received some of its funding from a bequest of £20,000 from Professor Clement W. Jones, a founder member of the Institute, in 2007. The IMA chose to use the funds from the bequest to promote the applications of mathematics to University Mathematical Societies and to help students to be part of the mathematics community throughout their careers. The University Liaison scheme was designed to feature a series of ‘Clement W. Jones Lectures’ to be delivered at University Mathematics Societies. In November I travelled to Newcastle and gave a Clement W. Jones Lecture on “Coding and Cryptography”. This was an evening event in which I spoke on the history of a few methods of encrypting and decrypting messages and then split the audience into groups, who attempted to decipher each others messages. Speaking with students afterwards, the event seemed to have been well received. This is a format I am able to offer at other universities that are interested and I will be developing further Clement W. Jones Lecture formats in the coming months.

The IMA East Midlands Branch runs evening talks of general mathematical interest very successfully but attendance by undergraduates is not usual. In December the IMA talk was at Leicester, where the Student Union Maths Society (S.U.M.S.) has recently been awarded a University Liaison Grant. I proposed to S.U.M.S. that they advertise the IMA Branch talk and they did so via a Facebook Event and other means. I am happy to report that S.U.M.S. members made up just over half the audience at “An Eulerian Journey” by Emma McCoy. You can find out what they thought of it in an article in the Student Section by Mark Gammon of S.U.M.S.

Later in December I attended the British Society for the History of Mathematics Christmas Meeting, “Maths in View.” This aimed to look at the ways in which maths and specifically the history of maths have been portrayed in different media such as television and film (and podcasts!). I gave a talk with Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich, who listeners will know presents a monthly Maths History piece for my podcast, Travels in a Mathematical World. Out talk covered my attempts to make the IMA more visible to students and Noel-Ann’s work writing and presenting the Maths History podcast episodes. You can download the podcast at www.travelsinamathematicalworld.co.uk.

Just before Christmas I visited Catherine Richards House, the IMA HQ in Southend-on-Sea for the Secretariat Christmas lunch. Despite working for the IMA this was only my second visit to HQ and the first for almost 12 months so it was good to see everybody and catch up. Also in December I had my regular University Liaison project meeting and personnel appraisal. I am happy to report both went well.

You can find out more about my work on the University Liaison initiative by visiting the IMA Student page or reading my blog, both via: www.ima.org.uk/student.

Student Section

In the student section this time is the piece I have mentioned above from Mark Gammon of the University of Leicester on attending the IMA East Midlands Branch talk and a piece from Felix Rehren of the University of Birmingham Mathsoc on activities supported by their University Liaison Grant.

Mathematics Today December: University Liaison Officer’s Report

The right lever to move the world

The new academic year has brought a mass of activity and potential opportunities. I am keen to spread the IMA message as widely as possible so thoughts turn to how my activities can be distributed to as many students as possible. So it is that I have begun several new initiatives.
Starting with the October issue, selected articles from Mathematics Today are distributed electronically to student groups with whom I have a contact or other student reps where no such group exists. These contacts will then redistribute the electronic Mathematics Today to students within their universities. This means that, perhaps as you read this, I will be reading through and picking a selection of articles from this copy of Mathematics Today that I think are of interest to students. Students will receive links to PDFs that are active for a limited period. I am also sending each student group a print copy of Mathematics Today for them to display at their events. The intention is that by receiving some of the content from Mathematics Today, students might begin to gain awareness of the IMA and the role it can play in their lives post-graduation. Certainly, we can hope that more students will be exposed to the IMA through this method than could be by my actions in person. And with the quality content in Mathematics Today we can be assured that the exposure will be meaningful as well as wide-reaching. If you would like students at your university to receive Mathematics Today please contact me at peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk.

A second activity I have begun is a podcast, Travels in a Mathematical World, which features mathematicians talking about their work and careers, as well as Maths History features from Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich and Maths News roundups with Sarah Shepherd of iSquared Magazine. This has been running for a few weeks now and the response I have had so far has been positive with students I have spoken to keen to hear from ‘real life mathematicians’. At a Mathsoc event at the University of Greenwich I was approached by a student who said “I was listening to you this morning.” It took me a moment to realise what she meant! You can listen to episodes and download the podcast at http://www.travelsinamathematicalworld.co.uk/. Any promotion you can provide for this is most welcome.

Thirdly (and I won’t say “finally”!), my relationships with university mathematical societies continue to increase in number. Through a group I am calling Representatives of University Mathematical Societies (RUMS), I am able to keep in touch with students at a wide range of universities through a single contact at each. Universities that do not have such student groups often have a student representative on some staff-student liaison group and sometimes it is possible for this student to act as my point of contact, or simply another keen student. So RUMS membership now includes students from universities without mathematical societies. This group is a huge advantage to my interactions as the task of maintaining a current list of students would be impractical. And there is, I think, a clear advantage to the students themselves in already participating in the mathematical community. If you are in touch with a student group, or know your university doesn’t have one but can think of another student who may be able to help, please get in touch via peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk.

I have set up a new blog for the members of the RUMS group to post news from their activities and share ideas. As I travel I am made aware of the different groups who all have similar goals and are all running into the same issues and this blog is designed for groups to share this experience. Particularly, I meet new student groups and it is good to be able to point them to the blog for inspiration. In the Student Section this time I have collected a few snippets of news from the blog. The blog is available at imarums.blogspot.com.

Activities Sept-Oct 2008

Last time I mentioned a questionnaire that I have distributed to universities through our network of IMA University Representatives and I am glad to say that responses have been coming in through this period. I have a 37% response rate with questionnaires returned from 27 universities.

During September I made several trips to Birmingham. First, I met with the IMA’s new liaison with the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS), Julie Hepburn from the Cardiff University Careers Service. We had a chat about what AGCAS and the IMA can do together. I’ve also visited the more maths grads project, who do some great work in mathematics enrichment at school level. We are exploring ways we can work together in areas we overlap, particularly on careers advice. Lastly, I attended the LMS Popular Lectures 2008 and grabbed 5 minutes with the Co-Chair of the Mathsoc at Birmingham and I am happy to report they are now successful University Liaison Grant applicants.

In October, I visited the University of Leicester and met with the enthusiastic bunch who are the committee for the student group there. Those who enjoy a bit of wordplay will enjoy the name: Student Union Maths Society (SUMS).

Next came my small part in following the New Unified Mathematics Society tour. I visited Newcastle, York, Leeds, Warwick and my home city of Nottingham with the Presidents of the IMA and LMS, David Abrahams and Brian Davies, respectively. It was really useful to go to universities I have not yet had the chance to visit and I have made some useful contacts there. I took the opportunity to catch up with the Mathsoc at Newcastle, who have recently made their second successful University Liaison Grant application and the more maths grads regional base in Leeds.

I visited the University of Greenwich for a talk organised by the MathSoc there on “Thinking Mathematically” by John Mason. Noel-Ann Bradshaw of the University of Greenwich is looking to organise a grouping of London Universities who can look to cross-promote events and I stopped on my way across London to meet the President of the Maths Society at Imperial College.

Finally I rounded off the month in Manchester, where I attended a mathematics specific careers event, “Calculating Careers”. I operated a stall at this with a mixture of careers advice, IMA materials and last but certainly not least a set of puzzles. This did lead to an afternoon of me calling out to passing students:”Fancy playing a game?” but it also led to all those students going home with a “Maths Matters” postcard from the Maths Careers website (http://www.mathscareers.org.uk/) and a copy of the Mathematics Today article Careers for Mathematicians1 under their arms, and hopefully some raised awareness of the IMA. I was told afterwards that my stall had seen the most activity at the fair so there is something to be said for baiting mathematicians with intellectual curiosities!

You can find out more about the University Liaison initiative by visiting the IMA Student page or reading my blog, both via: www.ima.org.uk/student.

References

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

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 www.travelsinamathematicalworld.co.uk.

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 peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk 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 peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk.

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 (peter.rowlett@ima.org.uk) 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 www.ima.org.uk/student 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.

References

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.

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