AustMS WIMSIG Anne Penfold Street Awardees
A potential major obstacle for academics when travelling for conferences or research visits is to ensure that their family responsibilities are taken care of while they are away. The AustMS WIMSIG Anne Penfold Street Awards provide additional financial support to Australian mathematicians for their caring responsibilities, while they travel for conferences or research visits to collaborators, with approximately four Awards awarded annually. The potential uses of these Awards include, but are not limited to, short-term childcare or professional carers for elderly relatives. These Awards are open to mathematicians of any gender.
The Awards are funded by the Australian Mathematical Society (AustMS) and are an initiative of the AustMS Women in Mathematics Special Interest Group (WIMSIG), which administers them. Awards are determined on a competitive basis by a selection committee of distinguished mathematicians, appointed by the Executive Committee of WIMSIG.
The Award rules and application forms can be found on the Anne Penfold Street Awards page.
Awardees To Date
- Joan Licata Joan Licata (The Australian National University) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 5, 2016) to cover caring expenses whilst attending the Workshop on Homology Theories in Low Dimensional Topology, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge, UK, April-June 2017.
- Emma Carberry
Emma Carberry (The University of Sydney) was awarded a Street award (in Round 3, 2015) to cover caring expenses, allowing her to make the most of hosting a research visitor from the University of Mannheim, Germany.
Emma's Report: The funding I received from WIMSIG enabled me to invite my collaborator Prof Martin Schmidt (University of Mannheim, Germany) to visit me in Sydney and to defray the costs of additional childcare during his visit, as I temporarily went from working 3 days per week to working full-time. It was an extremely productive visit and we are now writing up two papers resulting from this intensive research time: Blowing-up Singular Whitham Flows and Constant Mean Curvature Tori in R3. This productivity and recognition has already helped me to achieve further grant success, with the award of a $60,000 Brown Fellowship for next year, which will relieve me of teaching and administration duties for the year as well as provide some research funding.
It was particularly helpful that the grant was available to facilitate a collaborator visiting me rather than only supporting the reverse situation. As a sole parent of one-year-old twins it would not have been feasible for me to travel to Germany. Indeed even if that had been feasible, the situation of a collaborator doing the travel is more efficient in many ways as it allows the grant recipient to take advantage of existing childcare arrangements and support, rather than having to make temporary arrangements in a foreign country, as well as pay for childcare here whilst absent.
- Adelle Coster Adelle Coster (The University of New South Wales) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 2, 2015) for caring costs related to attendance at the 2015 Annual Meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology in Atlanta, USA.
Adelle's Report: After a delay due to aircraft maintenance and thus an overnight sojourn in Dallas on the way to Atlanta, I arrived in time to be present at the SMB Executive Board meeting on June 29. I answered some of the committee members’ queries regarding the progress our committee had made towards the 2018 SMB meeting which is to be hosted at the University of Sydney. They were pleased and we are looking forward to hosting a large international contingent at the meeting.
In the area of mathematical biology many times your collaborators and co-authors are biologists rather than mathematicians, so this forum was very useful to network with other like-minded mathematicians. There was quite a reasonable international representation at the meeting, although naturally the largest cohort was American. Indeed there were many antipodeans, showing the active nature of this area of mathematics in Australia.
The plenaries of the meeting itself were excellent with a wide range of topics in mathematical biology covered. Unfortunately, only 2 of the 9 were from female speakers, although the female representation at the meeting as a whole was much higher than many other mathematical conferences. Eve Marder was particularly inspiring – she is a biologist, but is one who sees the absolute necessity of modelling and mathematics in the understanding of how information is processed and decisions are made in biological function. Her presentation about degeneracy in neuronal oscillators touched on the interplay of experiment and modelling, and how individual responses should not always be averaged – difference being an important driver of differential behaviour.
The sessions, two of which I chaired, were also of high quality and ranged over numerous biological topics and mathematical techniques. Of particular interest to me were several sessions devoted to mathematical modelling in diabetes. It was wonderful to be able to see the progress being made on a number of fronts in this area as well as to meet and reconnect with researchers, some of whom I knew previously, but others only from their publications. My presentation was well received and I spoke with a researcher from Pfizer about possible future collaborations. I also followed up a previous meeting with Santiago Schnell (now President of the Society for Mathematical Biology), whom I had briefly met at a workshop in Feb 2014. He and his postdoc had followed through with a suggestion that I had made, and it was most gratifying to see that it had indeed provided a good line of investigation. Santiago is also particularly interested in ways to encourage women researchers, and we had a discussion about the AustMS awards I had received and he thought that these were interesting opportunities that the Society should similarly pursue.
I would like to again thank the AustMS WIMSIG for their invaluable support of the Cheryl E. Praeger and Anne Penfold Street Awards, making my participation in this meeting possible.
- Deborah Cromer
Deborah Cromer (The University of New South Wales) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 3, 2015) to cover caring expenses whilst attending a Welcome Trust conference on Infectious Disease Genomics and on a research visit at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Public Health, England.
Deborah's Report: I received travel funding and childcare support for an extended trip to the UK from 8th October – 14th November 2015 to both attend the Infectious Disease genomics Conference at the Welcome Trust Conference Centre, Cambridge UK from 14th – 16th October 2015 and to further my research collaboration with Dr Mark Jit at the London School of tropical Medicine and Hygiene.
At the Infectious Disease genomics Conference I presented my work on estimating the in-vivo HIV template switching and recombination rate, which was very well received. It was debated by a number of conference participants and the stimulating discussions that followed indicated a strong level of interest in my work at the international level. This was particularly inspiring for me, as I had not had a chance to present internationally recently. The talks I attended have motivated some new directions for my research. In particular I was alerted to a new dataset that we have since already used as evidence for some of our hypotheses in a manuscript under preparation. I had an opportunity to speak directly with a number of people whose work I had previously read and cited, and built up some new networks for potential future collaborations.
During the research visit with Dr Mark Jit we developed a mathematical model to assess the cost effectiveness of childhood vaccination against Respiratory Syncytial Virus. Vaccines against this virus are likely to be available in the next 5- 10 years, and our work will act as some guidelines for public health authorities when the vaccines are available for purchase. Out model was based on some previous analysis we had done of the burden of respiratory diseases by age and risk group, and built upon this work. By the end of the research visit we had drafted the majority of the paper and had clear timelines for the remainder of the work. Additionally we have plans for continuing this collaboration into the future.
Since I was out of Australia for over 5 weeks, I could not have made this research visit without taking my two children (3 years and 1 year) with me. I used funds from the Anne Penfold Street Award to pay for babysitting for my children while I was working in London. I used funding from the Cheryl Praeger Award to pay for my flight to the UK and for part of my conference fee.
I am very grateful for both of these awards, as they made a very productive research trip a real possibility through their financial support.
- Joan Licata Joan Licata (The Australian National University) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 1, 2014) for caring costs whilst on a research visit at University of Georgia.
Joan's Report: I am grateful to the Australian Mathematical Society for supporting my recent research trip to the United States and Hong Kong. In December I travelled to the University of Georgia, USA, to visit a collaborator there. We've been working on a project together for a year and a half, with only a few opportunities to speak in person. This visit offered us the chance to resolve some technical issues in the first stage of our project, and we expect to have the paper finished early this year. We also laid the groundwork for a new paper on two-parameter families of Morse functions which we will continue to work on remotely. Right after the New Year, I visited the Chinese University of Hong Kong, giving a series of graduate talks and speaking in a special workshop on low-dimensional topology. The Cheryl E. Praeger Award was extremely valuable in defraying the costs which weren't covered by my hosts. In addition, my two-year-old son travelled with me to Georgia, and the Anne Penfold Street Award covered the cost of his childcare while I was working there. I am extremely appreciative for this support in the dual challenge of being a mathematician and a parent.
Photo of Anne is courtesy of Deborah Street.