NSERC Peer Review System is Broken for Mathematics

Anomalous results of the 2011 NSERC Discovery Grants competition in mathematics have provoked a loss of confidence in the NSERC peer review system. To avoid a substantial loss of Canada’s scientific talent, which has been enhanced through the Canada Research Chairs program and other spectacular hiring over the past ten years, scientific policymakers need to quickly fix the broken peer review system. In the absence of an effective peer review process setting the strategy for research investment, Canada will miss out on the rewards made over the past decade’s recruitment of scientific talent.
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Mathematics and the Library at the University of Toronto

Overview UTL has built, and is in the process of expanding, a suite of web-based tools that have the potential to revolutionize the research driven by scholars at the University of Toronto. Some of these tools are designed to open the library’s archival system to new content streams generated within the University’s daily research activities. Other tools provide new methods to collect, share and discuss library resources enabling new ways to collaborate and develop research ideas.
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The Lucky Few of Waterloo: Does the Perimeter Institute deserve $50M Times Two

  There is chatter (here is more) suggesting that the $50M from the Conservative federal government (over 5 years) and the additional $50M (also over 5 years) from the Ontario Liberal Government to the Perimeter Institute is based more on politics than on scientific merit. These funding announcements emerge just a few weeks after the news that Neil Turok, Director of the Perimeter Institute, joined the Science, Technology and Innovation Council which advises the government on science policy.
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Vannevar Bush: Inventor of Government Research Funding Strategy

Vannevar Bush was the inventor of government investment in research innovation. He was founder of the US National Science Foundation, founder of Raytheon, main organizer of the Manhattan Project which influenced Berkeley leading to Silicon Valley, etc. Here is a timely extract from his letter to President Roosevelt entitled Science: the endless frontier: Five Fundamentals There are certain basic principles which must underlie the program of Government support for scientific research and education if such support is to be effective and if it is to avoid impairing the very things we seek to foster.
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Rotman Dean to Government: Give the basic research funding to business schools not scientists

Dean Roger Martin’s remarks in the Globe and Mail yesterday threaten Canada’s intellectual infrastructure and therefore merit the attention of all Canadians, especially policymakers planning the upcoming federal budget and researchers in Canada’s universities. Amazingly, he asserts: “What makes a country prosperous is not investment in science and technology. It is businesses producing high paying jobs by having unique products and processes that a customer needs.” Who does he think creates those products and processes?
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Mathematics Discovery Grants are Insufficient and Broken

Beginning this academic year, I have served the Department of Mathematics as the Associate Chair [Research]. The principal responsibility of this position is to administer the hiring process, for tenure stream and postdoctoral appointments. I also recently served on the Connaught Physical Science Review Panel which reviews applications for Connaught funds and adjudicates the McLean Award. Serving on the Connaught Panel has given me a perspective on the research climate in fields outside of mathematics.
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Edinburgh Meeting Notes 3

Galina Perelman: 2 soliton collision in NLS $$ i \partial_t \psi = - \psi_{xx} + F(|\psi|^2) \psi, ~ x \in R $$ where $F(\xi) = -2 \xi + O (\xi^2), ~ \xi \rightarrow 0.$ This family of equations has solitary wave solutions $$ e^{i \theta(x,t) \phi (x - b(t), E)} $$ where $\theta(x,t) = \omega t + \gamma + v \frac{x}{2}, ~b(t) =vt + c$ (all reall parameters). The profile $\phi$ is the associated ground state, which is $C^2$, decays exponentially, is even, …
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Edinburgh Meeting Notes 2

Sergei Kuksin (École Polytechnique): Nonlinear Schrödinger Equation We consider Hamiltonian PDE. This is of course very interesting. In physics, there is a class of pdes which is also of interest: Hamiltonian PDE = small damping + small forcing Why is it so important? This class contains a very important equation: Navier-Stokes. $$ \dot{u} + (u\cdot \nabla) u + \nabla p = \epsilon \Delta u + force; ~ \nabla \cdot u = 0.
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Edinburgh Meeting Notes 1

These are notes from a meeting entitled Advanced Numerical Studies in Nonlinear PDEs in Edinburgh, Scotland. Walter Craig (McMaster): Water Wave Interactions I’m an analyst but I’m going to talk about numerics and experiments as well as analysis. We will discuss the problem of water waves and then I’ll talk about two specific settings in which the theory has led to good and quite elegant numerics and the numerics have started to answer some questions.
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Confronting Bias in Hiring Committees

Jennifer Berdahl of the Rotman School of Management recently shared some slides with me that I thought should be more widely circulated among mathematicians. This presentation was created by MIT Professors Barbara Liskov and JoAnne Yates and is based on materials compiled by Abby Stewart for the University of Michigan’s STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) Committee. There are a lot of links to interesting materials on the STRIDE page such as guidelines about how to write a recommendation letter, and discussion on the advancement of women in science careers.
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