Entrance hall of the ICMSNew mathematics for a safer world: wave propagation in heterogeneous materials

In June 2017, ICMS hosted a workshop on New mathematics for a safer world: wave propagation in heterogeneous materials  

This workshop brought together leading mathematicians, engineers (and other disciplines) in the field who presented the current state of the art techniques, the open problems, and opportunities. This workshop will serve as the catalyst for new collaborations and new research directions in mathematics.

Delegates from the New mathematics for a safer world: wave propagation in heterogeneous materials PDEs workshop, June 2017

It was another busy week with many talks over 4 days.  Gary Bolton, National Nuclear Laboratories gave a public lecture, UK Nuclear: Past, present and future business.  The public lecture included videos of TEKtalks from a recent science and technology conference.  There were some familiar ICMS faces at the reception after the public lecture!


Left to Right, David Abrahams (previous scientific director of ICMS), Paul Glendinning (current scientific director of ICMS), Robin Knops (one of the founders of ICMS)




Whilst the workshop was on, we took the opportunity to speak to some of the delegates.

Katy Tant, University of Strathclyde

Katy is from Edinburgh. She completed her PhD at the University of Strathclyde in 2014. Katy currently works as a research associate within the department of Mathematics and Statistics at Strathclyde.  She is one of the organisers of this workshop.

Tell me about today's event and your role in it

I am a co-organiser for this workshop bringing together maths/engineering/geophysicists to discuss waves in heterogeneous materials for safety applications.  It has been successful, the balance is weighted slightly towards maths, but we have had a significant number of engineering applications & industry talks.

What brought you to this area of research?

I saw an advert to do a PhD with Tony Mullholland (co-organiser at this meeting) and I’ve stayed in this area ever since.

Other than exploring maths, what are the benefits of taking part?     

It is a great networking opportunity and has been a great opportunity to hear about the challenges in industry, and where they most need modelling capability.. 

What will you take back to your [day job/research/studies]?

I’ve got a lot of new contacts.  I’ve also heard about new techniques, I want to find out more about them and see if I can apply them.

Have you met interesting people, and if so, what connections have you made?

Yes, there has been lots of interesting people this week.  As a co-organiser, it has given me a lot of visibility to the senior people in this area.

Do you have any advice for first-time ICMS attendees? 

I’ve been to ICMS once before, back in 2011 at an Inverse Problem meeting.  It has all been so easy, so my advice would be to attend and join in!

Have you been to many other conferences? How does ICMS differ?

Yes, I attend a fair number of conferences.  This ICMS workshop is on a smaller scale, which has been nice and  meant that you can meet people on a personal level and as a result it is easier to ask for help and advice.

If you could solve one maths problem, what would it be?

Not sure, but I’ve always found talks/research on Invisibility pretty cool, so maybe solving some of the maths involved in that. 

Do you have any thoughts regarding how we can raise the profile of maths?

I think at the undergraduate level things are not too bad.  The numbers of males/females is about the same.  This needs to continue as things progress beyond undergraduate.  I think outreach at schools is very important so young people can see  that studying mathematics does not only lead to a career in teaching!

Do you have any thought on how diversity in mathematics can be improved?

There is lots to be done.  There is an approach to identify losses in the existing pipeline.  But there needs to be recognition that there is simply not enough people in the pipeline.  We need to raise the profile of mathematics, and make sure the career outcomes are celebrated widely.  There tends to be a view that people who leave academia for industry/teaching have left mathematics and that is not the case.

Who is your favourite mathematician and why?

I always liked Galois. He’s the only mathematician I know of that allows duels, love, girls and mathematics to be discussed  in the same breath.


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