SIAM News Blog

Funny Faces at the Fellows Reception

By Izzy Aguiar

Dozens of interesting, talented, and prestigious applied mathematicians attended the Fellows Reception at the 2017 SIAM Annual Meeting, held this July in Pittsburgh, Pa. But when asked what else interested them, many attendees jumped at the opportunity to discuss other passions.

SIAM President Nicholas Higham (University of Manchester) spoke of his time as a semi-professional keyboardist. W. Randolph Franklin (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) has climbed all 115 mountains over 4,000 feet on the East Coast. Chuck Gartland (Kent State University) and Andreas Griewank (Yachay Tech University) reminisced about when they taught together. Griewank also enthusiastically recalled a six-hour drive from New York to Pittsburgh to visit the C.F. Martin Guitar factory. Perhaps most surprisingly, Cynthia Phillips (Sandia National Laboratories) has won the Massachusetts State Taekwondo Championship and was invited to participate in the 1988 Olympic Games.

Attendees of the Fellows Reception at the 2017 SIAM Annual Meeting joke with one another and speak about their hobbies outside of mathematics. Photo credit: Izzy Aguiar.

The distinguished applied mathematicians at the reception are also musicians, “relatively good dancers,” baseball fanatics, and linguists — one has even met the Queen of England. They giggled when a friend pulled a funny face and asked engaging questions upon learning something new about a colleague. At a conference dedicated to the collaboration and sharing of knowledge in applied mathematics, it’s easy to forget the full lives that exist beyond the convention center walls. Our community can flourish even more if we acknowledge and embrace the unique aspects of each other’s lives.

SIAM Fellows have built their careers on their important contributions to the field of applied mathematics. When aspiring towards such a goal, SIAM students and young professors must realize that they are capable of achieving the same greatness. Despite the awards and grants and papers, these mathematicians are also humans, capable of making funny faces.

Izzy Aguiar earned her B.S. in applied mathematics and statistics from the Colorado School of Mines and is currently pursuing her M.S. in computer science at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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