SIAM News Blog

SIAM Conferences: More Resilient Than Ever

By Richard Moore

Several words come to mind when I reflect on 2022, but the one that seems to best describe the current state of SIAM conferences is “resilient.” That resilience begins with good governance, as SIAM leadership made the bold commitment in the fall of 2021 to run all possible 2022 conferences in a hybrid format. This crucial and prescient decision meant that SIAM was able to respond with minimal disruption as COVID-19’s Omicron variant swept across the world just a few weeks later, necessitating a switch of all conferences in early 2022 to a strictly virtual format.

SIAM conference staff bolstered this resilience in their efficient execution of the additional and complex workload that is associated with hybrid events, including vendor exploration and integration of external systems; renegotiation of site contracts; communication with co-chairs, speakers, registrants, and the broader community; and contingency planning and consideration of downstream consequences. And most important of all is the resilience of the entire SIAM community of researchers, teachers, and practitioners across all walks of life, career stages, and corners of the globe who have shared in this grand experiment. SIAM has done its best to provide venues—both physical and virtual—that allow participants to share their research and best practices, form and nurture collaborations, build their careers, and meet with friends and colleagues.

Attendees of the 2022 SIAM Annual Meeting, which took place in a hybrid format in Pittsburgh, Pa., in July 2022, network and mingle during the Poster Session. SIAM photo.
So, what does 2023 have in store? Most conferences are scheduled to take place in person, as the widespread availability of effective vaccines provides strong protection against COVID-19. Of course, SIAM will continue to trust the science by following recommendations from the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A hybrid option has been made available to attendees of the ACM-SIAM Symposium on Discrete Algorithms in Florence, Italy, from January 22-25, though speakers were strongly encouraged to take part in person.

Highlights of this year’s conference calendar include the 2023 SIAM Conference on Computational Science and Engineering (CSE23), which will take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, from February 26 to March 3. It is the first CSE conference outside the U.S., and the current number of submissions indicates that it will be SIAM’s largest in-person conference to date. Several months later, the 2023 SIAM Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems (DS23) will be held from May 14-18 in Portland, Ore. — its first iteration outside of Snowbird, Utah, since 1990. Early information suggests that DS23 will also be the largest-ever in-person conference in its series. Submissions are similarly robust for the co-located SIAM Conference on Optimization and SIAM Conference on Applied and Computational Discrete Algorithms, both of which will take place in Seattle, Wash., from May 31 to June 3.

Many additional exciting events are forthcoming in 2023 as part of SIAM conferences and as standalone activities. The SIAM Hackathon is scheduled for February 25 and 26 in Amsterdam—immediately prior to CSE23—while the SIAM International Meshing Roundtable Workshop will follow CSE23 from March 6-9. DS23 will include the Workshop Celebrating Diversity, and the SIAM Conference on Financial Mathematics and Engineering—which will be held in Philadelphia, Pa., from June 6-9—will again feature a student programming competition. SIAM will provide logistical and financial assistance to the Graduate Student Mathematical Modeling Camp at the University of Delaware from June 7-10 and the Mathematical Problems in Industry Workshop at the New Jersey Institute of Technology from June 12-16. And virtual SIAM Career Fairs will occur on April 4 and October 11.

In addition, the now-international MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge (M3 Challenge) continues to inspire the next generation to apply their mathematical modeling skills to problems of societal importance. Registration closes February 24 for Challenge Weekend, which kicks off on March 3. The M3 finalist teams and Technical Computing awardees will present their solutions to a panel of judges on April 24 in New York City. Note that many of these programs are meant for students: the segment of our community whose professional opportunities were most impacted by the pandemic. It is incumbent upon all of us to spend the coming months connecting students with activities that will shape their careers as mathematicians.

This year, the quadrennial International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ICIAM 2023) will take place in Tokyo, Japan, from August 20-25. As is customary during ICIAM years, SIAM will not hold its Annual Meeting in 2023; instead, we throw our support behind this major international conference. Monitor your email and for information about travel awards for U.S. scholars who are attending ICIAM 2023.

Looking beyond 2023, SIAM staff and leadership are currently planning the next iteration of hybrid SIAM conferences. The fully synchronous hybrid model that we adopted in 2022 acknowledged the uncertainty of the pandemic and reflected SIAM’s commitment to enabling the complete participation of all registrants, even if they were not able to be physically present at the conference venue. Such a labor-intensive and costly version of the hybrid modality is no longer necessary; discussions are underway to better understand how we can preserve positive hybrid takeaways while rethinking the more problematic aspects to sustainably deliver SIAM conferences that are as inclusive, accessible, and environmentally responsible as possible. Your survey responses and suggestions to SIAM staff and leadership will be invaluable in this endeavor.

The collective efforts of many individuals and organizations make SIAM conferences the esteemed gatherings that they are, and we are thankful to all of them. First and foremost are conference co-chairs, who set their meetings’ themes and lead the selection of plenary speakers. Support from funding agencies—most notably the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) and U.S. Department of Energy—as well as corporate sponsors helps keep registration fees as low as possible. In addition, donors and authors make SIAM conferences more accessible through their donations to the SIAM Student Travel Fund, which contributes to the Student Travel Awards. A grant from the NSF also supports travel awards for students and early-career researchers at U.S.-based institutions.

Finally, I would like to end this piece with heartfelt thanks to Connie Young, SIAM’s longstanding conference director who retired at the end of 2022. Connie’s 23-year tenure saw many evolutions in SIAM conferences, none more abrupt and challenging than those prompted by the pandemic. We wish her good health and happiness in her retirement. SIAM’s new conference director, Lisa Dyson, brings a wealth of experience to the role and has hit the ground running; please say hi if you see her at an upcoming meeting!

  Richard Moore is the Director of Programs and Services at SIAM. 
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