Student Days at the 2013 SIAM Annual Meeting

October 7, 2013


Anna Lieb, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, discussed her poster, “Optimizing Intermittent Water Supply,” with AWM executive director Magnhild Lien at the poster session in San Diego.
SIAM ♥ Students

What would SIAM be without students? SIAM president Irene Fonseca and the SIAM Board of Trustees made their answer clear this summer with a generous boost (matching one of equal value the previous year) for the Student Travel Fund. See http://www.siam.org/news/news.php?id=2106.

As illustrated in the photos and articles in this issue, students play an increasingly vital role in SIAM activities. Enthusiastic participants in special sessions at the Annual Meeting, they also organize and take part in innovative chapter activities and submit papers to SIAM's undergraduate research journal.



Pictured above is a particularly engaging session at the SIAM Annual Meeting in San Diego: In the time of a minisymposium, students were free to ask participating invited speakers (almost all signed on) questions about research directions, careers, internships, job search . . . .

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"What I enjoyed the most about the 2013 SIAM Annual Meeting was the opportunity to reconnect with fellow students and professors that I met at other conferences and workshops," said Diego Torrejon of George Mason University. "Besides the great talks, such as the I.E. Block Community Lecture, the numerous social and networking events allowed me to catch up with friends and make new contacts." One of several students who agreed to help SIAM News present a student's-eye view of the meeting, Torrejon spoke for many in choosing Anette (Peko) Hosoi's Block Lecture as a high point, and in appreciating the abundant networking opportunities.



Over breakfast, students exchanged ideas for creative chapter activities.

Officially, the student activities got under way early Tuesday morning, when invited representatives of SIAM student chapters met with SIAM leaders over breakfast. The annual event has grown over the years, without losing its warm, friendly ambiance. As shown in the photo above, some of the chapter representatives had prepared slides to accompany short presentations of their groups' innovative activities.

"The Student Days activities were great for connecting with other student chapters across the world," said Siān Jenkins of the University of Bath. "I'll be returning to the UK with many new friends."

"I learned about some outreach other chapters were doing," wrote Olga Trichtchenko from the University of Washington. "I actually did not know that so many chapters existed all over the world and so many were involved in outreach---I thought maybe our chapter was unique in that way. The downside was there were too many of us to actually be able to say anything more than a brief introduction. We did get a chance later on in the day though, when we broke into smaller groups."


Invited speakers shared the wisdom of experience with students. Photos from Student Days by Susan Whitehouse.

Pictured is a now-traditional event that gives interested students the chance to chat with invited speakers at the meeting. The setting was simultaneously relaxed and charged, in part because participating students asked good questions, in part because the speakers seemed to have no difficulty imagining themselves back in their own early-career situations.

For Siān Jenkins, the opportunity to meet with academics across many different fields of research and ask them about their research and careers was invaluable. "Choosing a direction after your PhD can be quite a daunting process," she said, "and knowing that they had felt the same was really reassuring."

For many students, attending the meeting was serious business: They had come primarily to give talks, in some cases prize talks (undergraduate and graduate student prize recipients are recognized at
http://www.siam.org/news/news.php?id=2109), or to present posters. Xue Jiang of the Chinese Academy of Sciences said of what was his first SIAM meeting that he was "very happy to have the opportunity to present my paper at the conference." He also benefited from other activities, including the poster session and outdoor receptions, which "provided good chances to share ideas, provoke discussions, and seek collaboration with others."

Charles Brett of the University of Warwick found "countless interesting talks" at the meeting and "really appreciated the activities and events targeted at students. The industry panel and career fair informed me on some of the exciting opportunities for applied mathematicians in industry, and the professional development evening gave me insights on how to find them. I now feel much better informed about my options."


The SIAM Book Giveaway was a hit with many students, but a chance conversation elevated it above the everyday for Diego Torrejon: "One memorable moment was when Dr. Carlos Castillo-Chavez spent time talking to me when I was waiting in line."

"I had the chance to participate in a minisymposium and give a talk. As a graduate student, whenever I have the chance to give talks in sessions with more senior researchers, it is a great learning and networking opportunity.Another very important aspect was having the receptions organized by SIAM. This allowed people to make contacts and then explore the city together after the talks were over for the day."---Olga Trichtchenko

"I would recommend that any final year PhD student attend this meeting. I'll certainly be taking back with me inspiration for my research, my student chapter, and my career."---Siān Jenkins

Students can find out more about chapter activities and resources for students at http://www.siam.org/students/.


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