Highlights of a Vibrant SIAM Annual Meeting, San Diego, July ’08

September 24, 2008

"Philippe Tondeur can write papers and do research . . . but he's being honored today for contributions of a different kind," said SIAM president Cleve Moler in awarding him the SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession. Those contributions date mainly to Tondeur's three-year term (1999–2002) as director of the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation, where, according to the prize citation, "his creative and dedicated leadership . . . has left an impact that will continue to benefit the discipline for decades." Singled out in the citation among Tondeur's initiatives at NSF are "the Mathematical Sciences Priority Area and numerous partnerships that reinforce the centrality of mathematics."
An emeritus professor of mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Tondeur has become an international consultant for mathematics, science, and technology. "Both at NSF and afterward," the citation points out, Tondeur "has supported the flourishing of mathematical science research institutes worldwide. His effective communication of a vision of contemporary mathematical research and its role in science and technology continues to influence policy makers at many levels."
Ever the statesman, Tondeur had prepared a response:
"Life in science, given a little bit of talent, means: great teachers, beautiful ideas, fellowships, travel, and in my case, a new passport.
"Then the tide turns, and if you are lucky, you get a chance to organize similar gifts for others. Even there, you stand on the shoulders of giants.
"Then you receive a prize for this, and the hope for a chance to do more.
"How lucky can you get? I am deeply grateful."

Dan Rockmore's I.E. Block Community Lecture, "Stylish Mathematics," lived up not only to its title but also to the high standards of the honoree---SIAM founder and managing director emeritus Ed Block. From the Federalist Papers to the Royal Book of Oz, from Brueghel drawings to paintings by Van Gogh and Pollock, Rockmore presented efforts to quantify style and, in some cases, determine authorship or authenticity.

Introducing David Gottlieb of Brown University, SIAM's 2008 John von Neumann Lecturer, David Keyes pointed out that Gottlieb's deep contributions to applied mathematics extend beyond even his research, his many books, PhD students, and consultancies, to a daughter, Sigal, shown here with her father and sometime co-author (the two have published papers together on spectral methods). Gottlieb's lecture was titled "The Effect of Local Features on Global Expansions."

As SIAM president (2005–06), Marty Golubitsky (far left) initiated a project informally titled "whydomath." Still (albeit far along) in the developmental stage, the project is a Web site designed to answer the intentionally subject-less question Why Do Math? As Golubitsky explained in his Past-President's Address in San Diego, the site is devoted to the multilevel presentation of success stories in applied mathematics and computational science that, together, reveal why professional mathematicians do math, why the public does/should fund math, and why students should learn math. Shown here with Golubitsky are SIAM Council member Margot Gerritsen, Chris Budd, author of the whydomath node on tomography, Andy Wathen, also a member of the Council, and Russell Davies, president of the UK/Republic of Ireland section of SIAM.

Graciously deflecting compliments on an outstanding meeting, Lenore Cowen (left) and Tammy Kolda, chairs of the organizing committee for the 2008 SIAM Annual Meeting, credited the hard work of the entire committee---Marsha Berger, David Brown, Sue Ann Campbell, Lieven De Lathauwer, Francis Giraldo, Gary Hewer, Chris Johnson, Vipin Kumar, Scott Markel, and Rajeev Matwani---all of whom deserve a round of thanks. Their disclaimers notwithstanding, so do Cowen and Kolda: "Tammy and Lenore are among the most energetic, responsive, and creative annual meeting organizers we have ever had. They were a pleasure to work with," says Ilse Ipsen, SIAM vice president for programs.



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