SIAM News Blog

After Two Years, a Reunion in the Pacific Northwest

By Thomas Humphries

In addition to majestic forests, stunning mountains, and a beautiful coastline, the Pacific Northwest (PNW) region of North America is also home to a thriving applied mathematics community. The tradition of regular meetings between applied mathematicians in this part of the continent dates back at least 35 years, to the first Pacific Northwest Numerical Analysis Seminar (PNWNAS) at the University of Washington in September 1987. This day-long conference, which consists of invited talks from speakers in both academia and industry, has convened almost every year since; the latest edition took place virtually in 2020.

In more recent years, collaboration between faculty at Oregon State University and Portland State University gave rise to the first CASCADE meeting in April 2014. This gathering—named for the mountainous Cascade Range in the PNW—uses a rodeo or circus format, in which the order and length of talks is determined on the day of the meeting based on which attendees volunteer to speak. The less-formal style makes it an ideal forum for students and early-career researchers to present their work. The meeting was later renamed CASCADE RAIN (for Regional, Applied, Interdisciplinary, and Numerical mathematics) — an allusion to the PNW’s infamously wet climate. The last iteration occurred online at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Figure 1. Tsunami simulation of a synthetic earthquake rupture off the coast of the Pacific Northwest in North America [1]. Image courtesy of Randall LeVeque and map © OpenStreetMap contributors.
The PNW Section of SIAM originated in 2016 to organize PNWNAS, CASCADE RAIN, and related events under one umbrella and make them accessible to students and participants beyond the major research universities in the region. The Section encompasses a large geographical area that includes the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, along with the Canadian province of British Columbia. It organizes virtual seminars by distinguished speakers several times a year to enable participation from a wide variety of members. Seminar topics have included tsunami modeling (see Figure 1), mathematical modeling of biological cells, clustering of complex networks, and ethical allocation of ventilators during COVID-19.

The PNW Section’s most prominent event is its biennial meeting, the first of which was held in October 2017 at Oregon State University; the second conference took place at Seattle University two years later. Planning for the 3rd Biennial Meeting of the SIAM PNW Section has been especially challenging in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Although the gathering was originally scheduled for the fall of 2021, the organizers opted to postpone the meeting to the spring of 2022 due to continually high COVID-19 case counts. Subsequent logistical issues and scheduling conflicts resulted in several date changes and one venue change, but the organizing committee is now pleased to officially host the next biennial meeting from May 20-22 at Washington State University in Vancouver, Wash. Due to continued uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 situation, the conference will employ a hybrid format; registered participants can choose to attend on campus or remotely via Zoom.

Four plenary speakers—Tegan Emerson (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), Jodi Mead (Boise State University), Jessica Stockdale (Simon Fraser University), and Jevin West (University of Washington)—will headline the meeting. They will present on topics such as COVID-19 modeling, the spread of viral misinformation, and topological data analysis. In addition, a number of minisymposia and contributed talks—organized by researchers from across the region—will address subjects like mathematical biology, computational fluid dynamics, numerical analysis, computational partial differential equations, and imaging science. Furthermore, a two-hour, in-person poster session on May 21 will allow students to practice their presentation skills and compete for prizes. We look forward to seeing many of our colleagues in person again after two long years of virtual meetings!

[1] Melgar, D., LeVeque, R.J., Dreger, D.S., & Allen, R.M. (2016). Kinematic rupture scenarios and synthetic displacement data: An example application to the Cascadia subduction zone. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth, 121(9), 6658-6674.

Thomas Humphries is an assistant professor in the Division of Engineering and Mathematics in the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics at the University of Washington Bothell. He has served as secretary of the Pacific Northwest Section of SIAM since 2020.

blog comments powered by Disqus