SIAM News Blog

SIAM Celebrates National Volunteer Week

It's National Volunteer Week! This occasion is an opportunity to celebrate the dedicated individuals who offer their time in exchange for nothing more than making SIAM (and the world) a better place. We would like to recognize and thank our many volunteers, whether you are editing journal articles or books, organizing conferences, advising student chapters, managing committees, writing for SIAM News, sitting on the SIAM Board of Trustees, or something else. We thank you all for your hard work and dedication and know SIAM would be nothing without your help.

We reached out to a few volunteers in SIAM leadership to share what they do for SIAM, their proudest achievements, and something about the organization that may surprise you. Meet some of the SIAM vice presidents! 

Howard Elman, Vice President for Publications

As the SIAM Vice President for Publications, I support and help maintain the journals. These constitute one of the largest parts of SIAM that is visible to the world and the VP helps maintain their stature by choosing editors-in-chief and advising on members of editorial boards. I'm also involved in a similar way with the book program. 

I also assist with decisions concerning policy. This is also related to "what people might not realize:" There are many complexities in the world of publishing (and these days, the world in general) that affect this particular job in new ways. One is open access, which SIAM is working hard to integrate into its operations. Another is the impact of the current health crisis which as we know has affected everything. 

Since I only started recently, one of the most pleasant surprises for me was how interesting it's been to get a much broader perspective on SIAM activities. I am knowledgeable in my own field (focusing on numerical analysis and scientific computing) but in just a few months I have been in contact with people across SIAM, on topics ranging from traditional ideas in analysis and applied mathematics to data science. Everything I've done has been collaboration with multiple other people (for example, the Journal Committee), and to a person everyone involved has been very helpful. It's actually been very exciting to have expanded my horizons in this way.

Kathleen Kavanagh, Vice President for Education

I am the current SIAM Vice President for Education. My interest in applied mathematics education covers the entire spectrum from supporting faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, straight back to K12 outreach programs. All of the educational efforts that SIAM supports require collaborations, committees, and team work with mathematicians in academia and industry. 

Something that was achieved recently was the approval of the SIAM Board and Council to sponsor a mentoring and professional development program for new applied math faculty (through MAA's Project NExT program). When I pitched this to them, I gathered testimonials from SIAM members who had also gone through this program (including my own!) There was no doubt about the value in fostering new applied mathematics faculty and the strong impact that SIAM can have on building future problem solvers. I look forward to watching our network of SIAM Project NExT Fellows grow and thrive.

Something that may surprise people is that the SIAM Education Committee organizes a set of hands-on applied mathematics activities at the United States of America Science and Engineering Festival, the nation's largest STEM celebration. This is entirely orchestrated and run by volunteers, many of who are SIAM student chapter members. Although this year's event has been postponed, Wes Hamilton from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has taken a leadership role in planning the logistics for this large-scale STEM event, which traditionally has had 350,000+ attend. 

I am grateful to have an active and dedicated Education Committee who consistently puts in time and energy to organize a variety of conference sessions, provide resources, and to promote excellence in applied mathematics education.

James Nagy, Vice President for Programs

The SIAM VP for Programs chairs the Committee on Programs and Conferences, which is responsible for the overall program direction and content of all SIAM Conferences and the SIAM Annual Meeting, as well as for their evaluation and oversight. A significant activity performed by the VP for Programs is to oversee and approve appointments of organizing committees and selection of invited plenary speakers for all SIAM Conferences. 
I’m new to the position, so I don’t have any major accomplishments to brag about. But one thing that has deeply impressed me the past few months is to see firsthand the incredible hard work and commitment by SIAM staff as we work to determine whether (and how) to properly postpone, cancel, or find virtual approaches to SIAM Conferences and Workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have also been greatly impressed by the support we have received by members of the SIAM community, especially those who have donated significant efforts to organizing conferences. The combined effort between dedicated staff and members is what makes SIAM and its conferences so special.

From SIAM, thank you again to all of our amazing volunteers! Learn more about volunteering and getting involved.

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