SIAM News Blog

Looking to the Future

By Sven Leyffer

One of the most rewarding and enjoyable aspects of being SIAM President is the numerous opportunities to meet and interact with students — our future SIAM leaders, as I like to call them. Argonne National Laboratory recently hosted the “Chicagoland” SIAM student chapters, which include the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois Chicago. 

The daylong gathering took place in March and involved survey talks on computational mathematics, science applications, and physics; the obligatory pizza lunch; a panel discussion on career prospects and research projects within the national laboratories; and tours of multiple Argonne facilities. For instance, students visited the Advanced Photon Source, which provides ultra-bright high-energy X-ray beams; the Materials Engineering Research Facility, which serves as a testbed for the advanced manufacture of invented materials; and Aurora, Argonne’s new exascale supercomputer. The benefits of such events are twofold; students learn about potential career paths and staff meet prospective interns or postdoctoral researchers. I strongly encourage other SIAM student chapters, laboratories, and research institutions to arrange similar experiences.

Members of the “Chicagoland” SIAM student chapters at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, and the University of Illinois Chicago gather at Argonne National Laboratory’s Theory and Computing Sciences Building during a joint visit in March 2023. Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.

Student chapters form the backbone of SIAM’s student activities. Last year, SIAM established 19 new student chapters through the dedicated efforts of Tulin Kaman (chair of the SIAM Membership Committee), with assistance from Susanne Brenner (the Past President of SIAM) and Kathleen Kavanagh (SIAM’s Vice President for Education). 2021 was also a landmark year, as the number of student chapters surpassed 200. One of my goals as SIAM President is to further increase student participation within the Society and encourage more frequent special events, such as the Argonne lab visit. As such, I do hope that we can continue to grow the student chapter tally in the coming years with the community’s help. “We should all encourage young people to establish chapters if they don’t already have one at their institutions,” Brenner said. “It is easy to make such suggestions when visiting universities or meeting individuals at conferences.”

Organizing a SIAM student chapter is not difficult, and the benefits are amazing. SIAM offers plenty of help and provides step-by-step guidance that details the process — all you need are 12 founding members, including two faculty advisers. Maggie Hohenadel (SIAM’s Student Chapter and Fellows Coordinator), Tulin Kaman, and I can answer any questions from interested students or faculty. The many advantages of establishing a student chapter include free SIAM membership for full-time students, free membership in two SIAM Activity Groups, SIAM funding for local activities, leadership opportunities, and support for one representative to attend the SIAM Annual Meeting and meet with SIAM leadership and other chapter liaisons over breakfast.

SIAM is currently putting together a special student event for the 2023 International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, which will take place in Tokyo, Japan, from August 20-25. We plan to sponsor an informal lunch that will allow students to meet the invited speakers and prizewinners, receive career advice, discuss research, and network with each other. Keep an eye out for a forthcoming announcement about how to register for this event. Finally, please reach out to me at [email protected] if you have ideas for student activities at SIAM.

Sven Leyffer is a senior computational mathematician at Argonne National Laboratory and the current President of SIAM. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Dundee in Scotland and works on nonlinear and mixed-integer optimization problems.

blog comments powered by Disqus