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Wanted: Discerning Readers to Join the SIAM News Network

By Gail Corbett 

In the last year or so, SIAM News changed the way it operates. With Hans Kaper in the newly-created position of editor-in-chief, we assembled a lively international editorial board, whose charge is to fan out around the world and solicit articles in the course of leading their lives as applied and computational mathematicians.

Members of the editorial board have attended conferences and, captivated by whatever it is that makes a talk outstanding, invited speakers to contribute articles based on their talks. Some board members regularly attend seminars and colloquia at their universities, and intrigued by the topics (for some, the further from their own research the better), ask the speaker to write an article for us. Still others read or hear informally about work in an exciting application area, or progress on a longstanding problem, and suggest an author who could write accessibly about the subject.

One result for readers of SIAM News has been coverage of highlights of some SIAM conferences – CSE, the area in which the largest subset of the SIAM community works (see this and this); geosciences; control; the SIAM Annual Meeting . . . (Our policy is that if an invited talk or featured session was included by the organizing committee of a SIAM conference, and selected as exceptional by a member of our editorial board, then the author and subject begin with a stamp of approval.)

We complement such articles with others submitted by a small, talented group of freelance writers (each has a Ph.D. in math) who have long contributed to SIAM News. Jim Case, Barry Cipra, Dana Mackenzie, and Phil Davis write regularly about and for the applied math community. Of course, their best work is on subjects they have uncovered and deemed exciting enough to be worthy of their informed reporting. Well, we could say the same of conference speakers writing about recent progress in their areas – who could bring a greater sense of excitement to an article about a particular research area?

All this sounds as if SIAM News has figured out how to cover the immense territory of applied math in a balanced fashion. Obviously, although we strive to do that, we see plenty of room for improvement. Hans refers to the people on the editorial board as the “eyes and ears” of SIAM News. As connected as Hans is, and as well-distributed (both scientifically and geographically) as the board members are, our coverage of the world is sparse. We need a finer grid!

This is where we hope that readers of this post might see a role for themselves in SIAM News. If you hear of exciting work, or an innovative program, that you think others might like to read about, please get in touch with us at siamnews@siam.org. You can start by leaving a comment at the end of this post.

One last thought: some publications are known for their informative and sometimes provocative Letters to the Editor columns. As SIAM president, Nick Trefethen heroically wrote a column on a topic of his choice for every single issue of his two-year term. Amazing: both the columns themselves and the perfect record! One of his topics was a call for letters to the editor for SIAM News. And sparked by messages to his contact list, people did submit letters, not necessarily about things they had read in SIAM News, but about problems or issues on their minds. It was great while it lasted (about as long as Nick’s presidency). If you’d like to open a discussion on some professional issue, please take the time to articulate your thoughts in a letter to the editor.

And don’t forget our invitation to become part of an extended set of eyes and ears for SIAM News!

Gail Corbett is the former managing editor of SIAM News.

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