SIAM News Blog

Recapping the 9th Annual Irish SIAM Student Chapter Conference

By Victoria Sánchez Muñoz

The University of Galway (UoG) SIAM Student Chapter recently organized the 9th Annual Irish SIAM Student Chapter Conference, which took place at UoG on December 9, 2022. This one-day conference united young researchers in industrial and applied mathematics throughout Ireland and beyond.

The SIAM student chapters in Ireland take turns hosting the event each year; the very first iteration was held at UoG (formerly called the National University of Ireland, Galway) in 2014. Last year’s conference, which returned to Galway for the fifth time, was also the first meeting to commence after Ireland fully lifted its COVID-19 restrictions. 43 registered attendees from multiple universities in Ireland partook in the day’s festivities. The agenda included two keynote lectures, seven contributed talks, and five poster presentations.

Participants of the 9th Annual Irish SIAM Student Chapter Conference, which was held at the University of Galway in December 2022, pose for a group photo. Photo courtesy of Tatiana Lapina.
The first keynote speaker was Stephen Russell, a computer vision research engineer at Valeo Vision Systems (one of the meeting’s sponsors). Russell, who graduated from UoG and was even a founding member and the first president of the UoG SIAM Student Chapter, spoke about the role of computer vision and applied mathematics in the development of driver assistance systems.

Romina Gaburro of the University of Limerick was the second keynote speaker. She presently serves as Ireland’s country coordinator for European Women in Mathematics and the Irish ambassador for the International Mathematical Union’s Committee for Women in Mathematics. Gaburro’s research explores inverse problems and related topics in analysis and partial differential equations, and her talk introduced the concept of the inverse problem: the mathematical technique behind imaging science and material characterization.

The morning session consisted of Russell’s keynote lecture and contributed talks from Robert Garvey of the University of Limerick and Pouyan Nejadi of UoG. The subsequent coffee break, which gave attendees an initial opportunity to peruse the posters, also revealed a hidden icebreaker task. Each person’s name badge included a mathematical expression (e.g., a function, matrix, definition, etc.), and participants had to find the individual with their “inverse” and engage in conversation during future breaks. The overall response to this activity was very positive because it encouraged people to interact outside of their own circles.

After two more contributed talks by Leah Keating of the University of Limerick and Khang Ee Pang of University College Dublin, attendees played several rounds of a popular game show called Countdown during a brief “Mystery Session.” The contest involves two types of 30-second rounds: a number round and a letter round. During the number round, participants had to use a few given numbers—along with basic math operations—to get as close as possible to another number. During the letter round, players were tasked with creating the longest possible word with a set of predetermined letters. Everyone seemed to enjoy this relaxing yet competitive game before lunch.

During the 9th Annual Irish SIAM Student Chapter Conference, which took place at the University of Galway in December 2022, attendees engaged in a “Mystery Session” that was based on a game show called Countdown. Examples of name badges with mathematical expressions are shown below; participants had to find their “inverses” during the coffee breaks. Photo courtesy of Tatiana Lapina.
The afternoon session began with another contributed talk by Sarah Murphy of the University of Limerick and Gaburro’s keynote address. After one last coffee break, Caroline Pena and Niall Donlon—both of the University of Limerick—delivered the final contributed talks. Once the organizers awarded prizes for the best presentation and poster, participants had a chance to network during the poster session. The evening concluded with a fully funded dinner at a local restaurant thanks to support from conference sponsors.

One of the conference’s underlying objectives was sustainability. UoG maintains a sustainability event checklist that implements certain measures. For example, participants were highly encouraged to bring their own mugs and water bottles, return badges for reuse, take public transportation if possible, and book any necessary accommodations via a webpage with sustainable choices. The coffee and tea for breaks had a green certification as well. To save paper, the conference booklet was only available on the meeting’s webpage and via a QR code (printed on recycled paper) during the event.

The UoG SIAM Student Chapter would like to thank all participants for a wonderful conference. We also sincerely appreciate the financial support from SIAM, Valeo Vision Systems, and the Stokes Applied Mathematics Cluster at UoG.

If you are interested in learning more about the UoG SIAM Student Chapter, please contact us at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter at @SIAMUniOfGalway.

Victoria Sánchez Muñoz is a Ph.D. student in quantum games in the School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Galway in Ireland. She is currently the president of the University of Galway SIAM Student Chapter. 
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