SIAM News Blog

President’s Column: Musings on SIAM and CSE23

By Sven Leyffer

I am writing this article—hopefully the first of many during my two-year tenure as SIAM President—while flying home from the 2023 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE23), together with a few dozen bleary-eyed CSE23 attendees (enough for two minisymposia and a small poster session).

Attendees of the 2023 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering, which recently took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, engage with expert-led affinity groups during “Student Days.” Clockwise from left: SIAM President Sven Leyffer (Argonne National Laboratory), Olga Dorabiala (University of Washington), Dev Dabke (Princeton University), Stefan Güttel (University of Manchester), Elizabeth Amankwah (Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology), and Aditi Basu Bal (Florida State University). Photo courtesy of Sven Leyffer.
CSE23 took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from February 26 to March 3 and was a wonderful and energizing in-person event. With more than 2,000 attendees from across the vast spectrum of computational science and engineering, it was SIAM’s largest in-person meeting to date; it was also the first CSE conference outside of the U.S. If holding CSE23 abroad was an experiment, then it was certainly a successful one. The three Organizing Committee co-chairs—Karen Devine (Sandia National Laboratories), Dirk Hartmann (Siemens AG), and Wil Schilders (Eindhoven University of Technology)—easily rose to this historical occasion by planning and executing a fascinating program. Together with the 14 other members of the Organizing Committee, they pioneered innovative conference ideas such as the highly successful two-day SIAM Hackathon that took place just before CSE23. During this fast-paced affair, teams worked together to create cutting-edge mathematical solutions for real-world problems in industry. The meeting also incorporated robust student programming via its “Student Days,” including affinity groups that were led by experts in the field.

In addition, CSE23 hosted a free public event that featured six TED-style talks on “The Role of Mathematics in Solving the World’s Main Challenges.” These short presentations by Karen Willcox (University of Texas at Austin), Magnus Fontes (Institut Roche), Katherine Evans (Oak Ridge National Laboratory), Luke Bennetts (University of Adelaide), Caoimhe Rooney (Astroscale and Mathematigals), and Bert Zwart (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica and Eindhoven University of Technology) were also livestreamed on SIAM’s Facebook page. The speakers discussed a wide variety of topics that ranged from digital twins, biomedicine, and climate change to ocean dynamics, the power grid, and the way in which blenders chop fruits and vegetables for smoothies. In 15 short minutes, each speaker brought applied mathematics to life with their passion, insights, and individual research experiences. The streaming feed for this public event is available on SIAM’s YouTube channel — be sure to check it out!

After the 2023 Joint Mathematics Meetings, which took place in Boston, Mass., in January, several attendees tried their luck in an escape room challenge. Top row, left to right: Kathleen Kavanagh (Clarkson University), Karen Bliss (Senior Manager of Education and Outreach at SIAM), Karen Yokley (Elon University), and Nick Luke (North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University). Bottom row, left to right: Richard Moore (Director of Programs and Services at SIAM), SIAM President Sven Leyffer (Argonne National Laboratory), Ben Galluzzo (Clarkson University), and Adewale Adeolu (Clarkson University). Photo courtesy of Sven Leyffer.
Prior to attending CSE23, I had the pleasure of representing SIAM at the 2023 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston, Mass., in early January (this conference was also held largely in person, though a virtual component was available). Every year, a dedicated team of SIAM volunteers puts together a vibrant program that showcases applied math and computational science to the broader mathematics community. This year’s schedule also featured SIAM minisymposium sessions that were organized by Ron Buckmire (SIAM’s Vice President for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and Kathleen Kavanagh (SIAM’s Vice President for Education). My personal highlights were the three Joint Policy Board for Mathematics prize lectures — and the wild crowd in Cartman’s Escape Room after the meeting’s conclusion.

One of the main issues that SIAM currently faces is a decline in the number of its student members. This decrease began during the COVID-19 pandemic and has not yet recovered; as of December 2022, student membership was at 76 percent of its pre-pandemic levels. During my presidency, I therefore plan to concentrate on attracting more students to the SIAM community. As SIAM members and advocates, you can help too — regular members of SIAM can nominate two students for free membership. Better yet, consider starting a student chapter at your institution if it does not yet have one. I was recently invited to visit the Illinois Institute of Technology SIAM Student Chapter, and I look forward to meeting many more chapters in the coming months.

This short article will hopefully be the first of many such pieces that provide my personal impressions of SIAM. I am always looking for new ideas, volunteers, and suggestions on how SIAM can better serve its membership community. Please contact me at [email protected] or reach out on Twitter at @SvenLeyffer if you have questions, comments, or concerns. I look forward to hearing from you!

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

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