SIAM News Blog

A Successful Revival of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section

By Harbir Antil and Ratna Khatri

The 2022 SIAM Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Section Annual Meeting took place at the Virginia Tech Research Center in Arlington, Va., on November 4, 2022. This gathering marked the resurrection of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section, which serves members in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware and had previously remained dormant for several years. Section vice president Harbir Antil (George Mason University), secretary Ratna Khatri (U.S. Naval Research Laboratory), and president Andrey Rukhin organized the in-person meeting, with generous support from SIAM, the Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence at George Mason University, and the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics at Virginia Tech.

Howard Elman (University of Maryland, College Park) delivers an engaging plenary talk during the 2022 SIAM Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Section Annual Meeting, which took place in Arlington, Va., in November 2022. Photo courtesy of Ratna Khatri.
The SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section was formerly inactive due to leadership complications and the COVID-19 pandemic. Rukhin, Antil, and Khatri assumed leadership in January 2022 and immediately sought to revive the section and unite the Washington-Baltimore community again. In May 2022, the board decided to coordinate an in-person section meeting for local SIAM members at all career stages (students, faculty members, and researchers/scientists) and from all sectors (academia, business, industry, and government).

The conference comprised two plenary talks, presentations and a panel discussion with program officers, a poster session for students and early-career researchers, and various opportunities for networking. Stefan Wild (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) and Howard Elman (University of Maryland, College Park) served as the plenary speakers. Program officers Warren P. Adams and Fariba Fahroo (Air Force Office of Scientific Research); Yuliya Gorb, Leland M. Jameson, and Stacey Levine (National Science Foundation); and Reza Malek-Madani (Office of Naval Research) offered useful insights into their respective funding agencies. Furthermore, 13 attendees from a variety of backgrounds took part in the poster session: one undergraduate student, three graduate students, six postdoctoral researchers, two faculty members, and one staff scientist.

While the organizers received an overwhelming amount of interest in the meeting, its size was ultimately limited by room capacity. Even after registration closed, the waitlist continued to grow. This inspiring response further reinforces the SIAM community’s desire to come together and demonstrates the instrumental role of section leadership in facilitating such interactions. Nevertheless, anyone who has ever organized a conference knows that doing so is not an easy task. Coordinators must solicit speakers, find a venue, create a corresponding webpage, manage registrations, arrange food and giveaways, and secure independent funding sources to offset costs for attendees. Leadership of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section successfully handled all of these challenges and diligently worked to make this meeting a reality.

Program officers from the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and Office of Naval Research discuss funding opportunities and answer questions at the 2022 SIAM Washington, D.C.-Baltimore Section Annual Meeting, which was held in Arlington, Va., in November 2022. Photo courtesy of Ratna Khatri.
In response, the gathering was a huge success. Applied mathematicians from academia, the national laboratories, government agencies, and industry assembled at the daylong event. Attendees appreciated the in-person format; in fact, this was the first in-person meeting for many individuals since the onset of COVID-19 three years ago. The program officers’ presentations and the consequent panel session were particularly well-received — especially by early-career researchers who had missed out on crucial networking and growth opportunities during the pandemic. The audience also enjoyed the plenary talks and embraced the opportunity to catch up with old friends and get to know many young and well-established researchers from both their own fields and other sectors. Participants praised the speaker and program officer selection and commented that the meeting was “interesting,” “very enjoyable,” “very productive,” “quite well organized,” and “valuable and helpful.”

Overall, the conference represented a highly successful comeback for the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section. The organizers are grateful to Suzanne Weekes (Executive Director of SIAM) and Annie Imperatrice (Senior Assistant to the Executive Director) for their strong and generous support. Section leadership hopes to maintain activity within the Washington-Baltimore Section and continue to connect the local SIAM community of applied mathematicians, computational scientists, and data scientists.

Harbir Antil is head of the Center for Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence and a professor of mathematics at George Mason University. His areas of interest include optimization, calculus of variations, partial differential equations, numerical analysis, and scientific computing with applications in optimal control, shape optimization, free boundary problems, dimensional reduction, inverse problems, and deep learning. He is the vice president of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section.  
Ratna Khatri is the Jerome and Isabella Karle Distinguished Scholar Fellow in the Optical Sciences Division at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Her research interests include partial differential equation-constrained optimization, deep learning, and inverse problems in imaging science. She is the secretary of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section.  
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