Dear Alumni,

In December 2014, the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation recommended a ramp-down of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). This decision ends the IMA's successful run, which began in 1982. This site is created to record the impact the IMA has had on the mathematical sciences community, and the larger scientific and engineering communities. Please take a minute to share your thoughts. Stories about how the IMA impacted your research or your career are particularly appropriate. Thank you.

Notifications:
1. Please do not use this forum to express your opinion about the NSF decision.
2. Submissions will be monitored. Any inappropriate submissions will be deleted.

Comments

Affiliation: 
University of Minnesota
Current Position: 
Professor

I am fortunate to have been associated with the IMA throughout my career. The programs have consistently been highly innovative, state-of-the-art and forward looking. The IMA has been key in the development of mathematics and materials sciences, starting with the activities in the 80's involving analysis, geometry and mechanics. Many annual programs, hot-topics workshops and summer schools have taken place in related mathematical fields. What I find really amazing is that, to this point, one can count four generations of scientists that have emerged in direct connection with the IMA. Moreover, a particularly vibrant scientific school, spread all over the world (Europe, P.R. of China, S.Korea, Israel, Turkey, South America, Canada, Australia) can be genealogically traced to the IMA and its environment. A new generation of graduate students and postdocs is currently
benefiting from the work of IMA participating scientists (mathematicians, engineers, and other sciences), who in their own institutions, have changed the culture in mathematics, and contributed to establish and develop interdisciplinary research. Closing down the IMA would have tremendous negative impact on future interdisciplinary scientific research, just at the time when the world faces serious challenges that only science and mathematics, in close interaction, can address. I do hope that the University of Minnesota and the National Science Foundation can find a way for the IMA to recompete for funding, so that such a myriad of extraordinary resources are not laid to waste.

Affiliation: 
University of Minnesota
Current Position: 
Professor

The IMA has provided an easy way for people to organize short workshops and longer term programs that bring mathematicians together for joint work. The spin-off from this has been tremendous. The opportunity for mathematicians to come together to explain their own work, be exposed to the work of others and develop joint projects is one of the most important factors in promoting new developments. It has been particularly important that the IMA is in the mid-west, because has been the only such institution in this region. In my own case this has meant that the activities were on my doorstep, but for others in this part of the country it means that there is not such a distance to travel in order to participate. Although my own area of algebra is not directly in the mainstream of topics usually addressed by IMA programs, nevertheless there have frequently been activities in which I have participated.

Affiliation: 
Memorial University of Newfoundland

I spent a year as a postdoc at the IMA, and it was great. The setup of building a program around a core group of postdocs worked really well. I think that all of the postdocs who participated were launched into better careers than we would have had without the IMA. I was told there that they were attempting to set us up with 10 years of collaborations and now that I am coming to the end of that 10 years I can say that is certainly true. In addition to the formal collaborations that grew from this time, I am also so much better acquainted with the breadth of my field than I would have been otherwise. I think that the opportunity to be there and to participate in a variety of workshops in such a short time increased my scientific maturity enormously. I know who to ask about a variety of problems and my time at the IMA has also inducted me into the IMA postdoc club, which has resulted in several other fruitful collaborations. The faculty at the University of Minnesota were also key to my development as a scientist during that time. The excellent group of mathematicians, physicists and engineers who surround the IMA were a tremendous resource to me and have continued to be valuable mentors over the past decade.

Affiliation: 
Dept. Mathematics & Physics
Current Position: 
Assistant Professor

I spent two months at IMA during spring 2005; after 10 years, I can say that those two months have been the most important for my scientific career: a real kick off. I remember IMA as a wonderful place to study, to stay, to meet people and discuss, with a dense programme of events.
Also, I remember IMA as place at the forefront of applied sciences, not only mathematics, where it was possible to meet people from diverse backgrounds and complementary know-hows from hitherto non-communicating communities.

Affiliation: 
UW Madison
Current Position: 
Professor

Kudos to the folks at IMA for their tremendous efforts in support of the mathematical sciences.
They provided such great help in organizing a statistics conference with me some dozen years ago, and they hosted my long term visit. These things helped to guide the next ten years of my research career, as well as helped to define the direction of research in statistical genomics.

Affiliation: 
Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Centre for Applicable mathematics
Current Position: 
Professor

I visited IMA for a meeting organized for women in mathematics in the winter of 2005 . This turned out to be a very valuable experience for me. This meeting led to a job for me as well as two scientific collaborations. Though this was a very short meeting, it proved to be very fruitful, thanks to the IMA.
Also, I found the functioning of the IMA office efficient and effective in all ways.

Affiliation: 
Carnegie Mellon University
Current Position: 
Professor and Senior Associate Dean

My academic career began as a postdoc at the IMA in 1987-88 as part of the special year on "Applied Combinatorics". It truly was the sort of year that helped define what sort of researcher I was to be. While the other postdocs came from mathematics departments, my doctorate was in Industrial Engineering, with a specialization in operations research. During the year, I was able to develop my skills much more deeply, adding a more fundamental understanding of combinatorial mathematics to my computational and algorithmic skills. This had the immediate impact of getting my career off on the right foot through the publications and contacts I made, and had a more long term impact through my comfort with a much broader range of research that I would have had otherwise. Since my postdoc 25+ years ago, I have been at Carnegie Mellon moving from Assistant Professor through Associate Professor through tenure through Full Professor, and now as a Chaired Full Professor. The IMA and my postdoctoral year deserve much credit.

On a more specific note, during my year at the IMA, many of the postdocs and visitors were interested in issues of combinatorial design with "tournament design" of particular interest. A few years later, I began working with Major League Baseball on scheduling issues and, starting 2005, MLB began playing the schedules my colleagues and I created! So the IMA has played a part in better professional sports scheduling.

Affiliation: 
Purdue University
Current Position: 
Graduate Student

Besides my home institution, no place has helped me grow more as a mathematician than the IMA. Their events have given me great perspectives on new research in my field. I have had a collaboration begin as a result of networking at the IMA. And it was the IMA that made me aware of opportunities for mathematicians outside of academia. In particular, there was a short workshop on entrepreneurship a couple years ago, that I hope to put into practice in the future.

Affiliation: 
GTG Research
Current Position: 
Scientist

In June of 2011, I attended the two-week hot-topic short course on dynamical systems organized by Professor Bates et al. I learnt beneficial new theory on dynamical systems and presented my work on biomedical modeling of a nonlinear dynamical system. Afterwards, a coupled of attendees sent request email for a copy of my talk. Professor Bates was interested in the problem presented and provided good advice and suggestions for our idealized test model. His work was appreciated. However, for a non-idealized model, the collaboration couldn't continue due to the technical difficulty of the problem.

Affiliation: 
Emory University
Current Position: 
Professor

I was an IMA Postdoc 1991-1992, which was focused on Linear Algebra and Applications. It was an incredible year for me -- the various workshops, and prominent senior visitors introduced me to new areas and problems. I established many long lasting collaborations, and it was certainly the spring board to what I consider to be a wonderful career in research and teaching.

Affiliation: 
University of South Carolina
Current Position: 
Assistant Professor

I joined the IMA as an industrial postdoc in 2012-2014. It was an invaluable experience to me.

At the IMA, I met my mentors Prof. Fadil Santosa and Prof. Bernardo Cockburn. We started a couple of exciting projects and we are still collaborating with each other now. Thanks to this unique postdoctoral program, I also had the opportunity to work with engineers at the Eaton Corporation (my corporate sponsor). We used mathematical tools to formulate models and found solutions to several practical engineering applications. So glad to be a part of the IMA community. I benefit from attending various workshops, talking with scholars with different background all over the world, and establishing a few long-term collaborations. I am still looking forward to visit it in this and next year.

Thanks, IMA!

Affiliation: 
University of Illinois at Chicago
Current Position: 
Professor

I started my career as an IMA postdoc, 2003-2005. For me it was a great opportunity as it gave me time to do independent research. Doug Arnold accepted to be my mentor and he introduced me to Ragnar Winther. I also benefited from my time at the IMA from informal discussions and networking. Other people I met at the time include Bernardo Cockburn and Fatih Celiker. In 2005 I became an assistant professor at Northern Illinois University, which incidentally is an IMA participating institution. In 2009, I was awarded a Sloan fellowship. I returned to the IMA for the 2010-2011 thematic year on an IMA visiting fellowship and a sabbatical grant. This gave me the opportunity to interact with many other people including Ricardo Nochetto and IMA postdocs Weifeng Qiu and Hengguang Li. I attended, beyond the thematic programs, a few IMA workshops where I learned of possible new directions. Most of the work I did with Doug Arnold took place during my long term visits at the IMA. To put it simply, I am definitely IMA.

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