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.
Prof Cheryl Praeger with some past recipients of AustMS WIMSIG Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Awards and Anne Penfold Street Awards — September 2017
L-R: Valentina Wheeler, Joan Licata, Barbara Maenhaut, Cheryl Praeger, Joanne Hall, Catherine Penington, Bronwyn Hajek. (Photo Credit: Sia Duff.)
Awardees To Date
Zsuzsanna Dancso (Sydney) was awarded a Street Award in Round 12 (2020) for a two-month research trip at Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) to participate in a program on Higher Categories and Categorification, a visit at the Alfred Renyi Institute of Mathematics in Budapest, a seminar talk at the University of California, Davis, and two outreach workshops at the Berkeley Math Circles – a highly acclaimed enrichment program for high school students.
Travel Summary. In January-February 2020 I completed a two-month research trip, with the primary goal to attend as a funded Research Member the first five weeks (20 January – 24 February) of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) semester program on Higher Categories and Categorification, in Berkeley. Before the program I spent ten days (6-15 January) visiting the Alfred Renyi Institute of Mathematics in Budapest.
Talks. As part of the trip I gave a seminar talk on January 27, 2020, at the University of California, Davis, on Flow Lattices and Koszul Algebras. An unexpectedly large number of PhD students attended the talk and lunch, and I had substantial conversations with a few of them. It is currently a priority to me to build relationships with the emerging researchers in my area, as I hope to be in a position to recruit a post-doctoral fellow in the next couple of years. I have also had success building collaborations through the International Visitor Program at the University of Sydney, which has now greatly expanded thanks to the Sydney Mathematical Research Institute.
During my stay in Berkeley I also gave an introductory talk on my research interests at the MSRI on February 22, 2020, which lead to inspiring discussions with Muriel Livernet, whom I only met on this trip. In addition, I lead two outreach workshops on Planar Graphs and Cut-Flow Duality on February 13 and 20, at the Berkeley Math Circles, a highly acclaimed enrichment program for high school students.
Research and Professional Benefits. It has always been important an important career goal of mine to maintain ties with the Renyi Institute and the Hungarian mathematical community, where my mathematical career began. Over the past few years I have built relationships with a number of researchers there, and established a “tradition” of visiting the institute approximately once a year. On this visit I discussed possible research directions with Katalin Vesztergombi and Balazs Szegedy.
The program at MSRI included two workshops during my stay: “Connections for Women” and the “Introductory Workshop”. This had a double benefit as it introduced me to a new research area – higher categories and operads – while also providing the opportunity to work with an established collaborator, Dr Marcy Robertson of the University of Melbourne. During this time we submitted two joint ARC Discovery grant applications and made progress on a joint paper. Being co-located was especially beneficial to the paper as we worked out some subtle technical issues that would have been time consuming over email or video calls.
I also had the chance to refresh discussions with a number of other researchers at the MSRI, including my former post-doc mentors Monica Vazirani and Scott Morrison, as well as David Jordan and Paul Wedrich. The most promising outcome of these discussions is a possible project at the interface of quantum topology and category theory with Scott Morrison.
Overall, this travel was a great research boost, and even more valuable in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, as I am unlikely to be able to travel internationally for the foreseeable future.
Antony Licata (ANU) was awarded a Street Award in Round 12 (2020) for a research visit at Max Planck Institute in Bonn, Germany.
Anne Thomas (Sydney) was awarded a Street Award in Round 10, 2019.
Anne’s Report: We are grateful to WIMSIG for the receipt of an Anne Penfold Street Award to support childcare at our conference Flags, Galleries and Reflection Groups, which was held in the Sibyl Centre of Women’s College at the University of Sydney, 5–9 August 2019. The award covered almost all of the childcare expenses of two of our invited speakers, Charlotte Chan and Thomas Lam. Their talks were:
- Charlotte Chan: 11:30–12:30, Thursday 8 August 2019
- Thomas Lam: 16:00–17:00, Thursday 8 August 2019
Since their daughter was unfamiliar with the nanny, Chan and Lam ended up only booking childcare until early afternoon each day, and taking turns attending the conference after that. Thus the total cost of $853, comprising $715.50 for the nanny plus the booking fee of $137.50, is less than we anticipated, and the Anne Penfold Street Award of $750 covers almost all of this.
Our provision of childcare meant both parents could attend more of the conference talks than they would have otherwise. The conference schedule also gave ample time for discussions during breaks between talks, and all participants benefited from Chan and Lam’s presence for this, given the high mathematical level at which they are both working.
The conference over all was a great success, with many new interactions between participants from a variety of mathematical backgrounds. We were also commended in person and in the post-conference survey for our emphasis on diversity, and for giving many early career researchers the opportunity to speak.
Joan Licata (ANU) was awarded a Street Award in Round 10, 2019.
Joan’s Report: I’m very grateful for the support of an Anne Penfold Street Award. The Award helped pay for my in-laws to travel to Canberra during a three-week research trip overseas, and this made a big difference to my children and my partner.
My trip to the United States had three separate components, each of which was extremely valuable to my research program. The first week of my trip was spent at ICERM in Providence, RI, where I worked with a research group at the WisCon workshop (Women in Symplectic/Contact Geometry and Topology.) I spent most of the second week at Frontiers in Floer Homology at Boston College, which allowed me to connect with colleagues I hadn’t seen in several years. FFH included both standard conference talks and collaborative work time, and I was able to continue work with several collaborators as well as discuss some of my recent results with others in the field. Finally, in the third week I traveled to the American Institute in Mathematics for a SQuaRE on the topic of Lagrangian Cobordisms and Norms. My SQuaRE group consisted of four mathematicians spread across four countries on three continents, and we made more progress on our project in five days than we had in the previous four years.
I very much appreciate the support of the WIMSIG and the Australian Mathematical Society. One trip like this fuels months or years of progress, and it was tremendously helpful to know that my family had the extra logistical and emotional support to keep things going smoothly while I was away.
Dan Mathews (AustMS2019) was awarded a Street Award in Round 10, 2019.
Sevvandi Kandanaarachchi (Monash University) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 9, 2018) for ACEMS 2018 in Victoria, October–November 2018.
Sevvandi’s Report: I’m very pleased to be a recipient of the Anne Penfold Street Award. I used these funds to pay the carer to take my daughters to lessons and other activities while I was at the ACEMS (ARC Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers) retreat in Torquay.
I attended the ACEMS retreat, which was held in Torquay from Monday the 29th of October till Friday the 2nd of October. During this retreat, I did a research talk, participated in many activities, met many applied mathematicians and had fruitful discussions with them which may lead to future collaborations.
The title of my talk was “The effect of normalization and algorithm selection for outlier detection”. It was a 10-minute talk at an introductory level. I gave a brief overview of the topic and explained the effect normalization has on outlier detection due to the changes in distances. I also talked a bit about algorithm selection. The other details pertaining to my talk are as follows.
Date: 29th September 2018
Location: RACV Resort, Torquay, Victoria
Occasion: ACEMS retreat 2018
Session: Student and ECR talks
In addition, I also attended the following sessions, which were specially aimed at early career researchers and students.
(1) GitHub session: This was conducted by Mr Miles McBain of QUT. GitHub is a version control system popular among statisticians and data scientists.
(2) Introduction to Functional Data Analysis: This was conducted by Professor Aurore Delaigle of Melbourne University.
(3) Professional Development session: The focus of this session was “finding the flow”, in order to achieve better productivity.
(4) Communications session: This was conducted by Mr Tim Macuga — ACEMS communications officer.
The main retreat consisted of many research talks and industry engagement sessions which were informative and beneficial.
The main retreat also had a communications session called “‘Killing it’ Comms at ACEMS”, which focussed on the use of social media and other outlets to showcase our research. I was a panellist on this session.
It was a very productive retreat and I gained a lot by attending.
Mythreye Krishnan (The University of Western Australia) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 8, 2018) for childcare expenses whilst attending the ANZIAM Conference, February 4-8, 2018, Hobart.
Mythreye’s Report: I recently travelled to Hobart, Tasmania, to participate in the Australia-New Zealand Industrial and Applied Mathematics (ANZIAM) 2018 conference, which exposed me to the latest applied mathematical research and facilitated an opportunity to present my ongoing research work to a larger scientific community.
The conference took place between the 4th of February and the 9th of February 2018. I attended about 30 talks including guest lectures from various invited speakers for the conference. I was fascinated by the amount of applied mathematical work taking place in biological studies. In particular, I was very much interested in the talk given by Dr Alys Clark on “Pregnancy and beyond: how mathematical modelling could improve early life health”, in which she discussed using mathematical models to study the oxygen intake for the new-born babies. I was also interested in the models to study the propagation of virus diffusion and in aiding the cancer cells destruction by Adrianne Jenner in the talk on “The effect of tumour heterogeneity on cancer treatments: the ninja virus”. All the talks enhanced my knowledge in the application of different mathematical modelling methods in studying various biological phenomenon.
In addition, I also presented my ongoing work on “Network using Michaelis-Menton kinetics: an algorithm to find target genes from expression data”. This was my first time presenting my results on an international stage and it helped me appreciate the experience of discussing my results, which I deem as an important factor in further pursuing my career in research.
I also attended the Women in Mathematics Lunch and the Conference Dinner, which again helped me in networking with a scientific community. My attendance at the conference has enhanced my knowledge and experience and it will aid me in the completion of my ongoing paper, my thesis and my research thereafter.
Joanne Hall (RMIT University) was awarded a Street Award (in Round 6, 2017) for childcare expenses whilst attending the WIMSIG “Celebration of Women in Australian Mathematical Sciences” Conference, September 24-26, 2017, Adelaide.
Joanne’s Report: The funding I received through the Anne Penfold Street Award paid for childcare for my two children whilst I was in Adelaide at the WIMSIG Conference. I work part time (Wed-Fri) so Monday and Tuesday are not my usual workdays. RMIT paid for my travel, but this extra childcare expense put pressure on my family budget. I booked extra days at my children’s usual childcare for 25 and 26th September to enable me to attend the conference. This enabled my husband to go to work as usual whilst I was in Adelaide for the conference.
I was fortunate that both of my children’s childcare facilities had the capacity to take my children on those extra days. This is largely due to the timing of the conference being in the school holidays. Many families take holidays at this time, and so the child care operations are not working at full capacity.
The WIMSIG Conference: Celebration of Women in Australian Mathematical Sciences was a fabulous event. I coordinated a session on the mathematics of Cryptography, Coding and Compression. Whilst this session was small, it attracted female mathematicians working in engineering who would not normally consider attending an AustMS event. My presentation was Optimal Data Distribution for Big-Data All-to-All Comparison Pattern using Finite Projective and Affine Planes.
I really enjoyed the technical program, with excellent plenary speakers, engaging contributed talks and interesting posters. I have come away with new ideas, and potential collaborators.
I also enjoyed staying in the CWA hostel with many of the conference participants. This feature of the event added to the feeling of connectedness and belonging that is one aims of the event.
I was a member of the WIMSIG committee when the Anne Penfold Street Awards were first established. Since WIMSIG’s establishment in 2012, I have indirectly benefited from all of the events, advocacy and projects that WIMSIG has undertaken. It is nice that I now have the opportunity to directly benefit from WIMSIG’s fabulous work.
I am thankful to the Street Awards Committee for accepting my application, to the WIMSIG committee members, both past and present, for establishing the Street Awards, and to the AustMS for providing financial support for the Anne Penfold Street Awards. I am thankful to my husband and children for making my life beautiful.
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.
Joan’s Report: I am very grateful for the support offered by a Cheryl E. Praeger Travel Award and an Anne Penfold Street Award for my recent travel. I had been invited to join a special semester on Homology Theories in Low-Dimensional Topology at the Isaac Newton Institute in Cambridge, UK, and the AustMS awards helped defray the substantial costs involved in the travel. The program itself was invaluable, offering a fantastic opportunity for me to spend several months immersing myself in a research-intensive environment. The theme of the special program is closely tied to my research area, so I was able to talk to many mathematicians working in my field. While in the UK, I gave talks in Glasgow, Cambridge, and on the Isle of Skye. I was also invited to visit Cologne, where I gave a series of research talks and graduate lectures and began a new paper with a pair of researchers there. However, one of the best features of my trip was simply having the opportunity to talk about maths daily at the Institute with other topologists, and I’m excited about a new and on-going collaboration that developed from these conversations. It took us some time to turn mutual interest into a focused project, so the opportunity for an extended stay was particularly helpful. The Anne Penfold Street Award helped with the costs of relocating to Cambridge with my two children, which in turn make the longer visit possible. Thank you!
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 (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 (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 (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.