COVID-19 has put mathematical modelling into the limelight, and sent the media scrambling for experts to explain the pandemic models to the public. Medical doctors are frequently consulted, but the media should also be interviewing applied mathematicians who develop and study pandemic models. Unfortunately, while researchers occasionally have access to workshops on science communication, there is no such training for applied mathematicians, and the science workshops do not address the particular challenges of communicating mathematical work. The Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society – Société Canadienne de Mathématiques Appliquées et Industrielles (CAIMS-SCMAI) aims to remedy this problem through Mathematical Sciences Communication Workshop, targeted at graduate students, postdocs, and faculty in applied mathematics, and taught by experts in public communication.
Participants will emerge from each workshop with samples of their own writing explaining their research, concrete examples from others, and tools to continue refining their communication skills.
The Mathematical Sciences Communications Workshop is supported by NSERC, CAIMS-SCMAI, BIRS, CRM, SCWIST and Informed Opinions. The program is led by Dr. Rebecca Tyson & Dr. Jacques Bélair for the English and French workshops, respectively.
Dr. Rebecca Tyson
Rebecca Tyson is Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia (UBC) Okanagan in Kelowna, BC, and president-elect of CAIMS/SCMAI. Her work lies mainly in the area of theoretical ecology, specifically population dynamics and dispersal of populations in variable landscapes. She has worked on questions related to predator-prey cycles, mountain pine beetle dispersal, pollination services of honeybees, and human-bear interactions in interface communities like Whistler, BC. The models she uses include ordinary and partial differential equations, as well as individual-based computational models. Recently, she has become interested in the dynamical interface between ecology and human opinions, as the latter is a critical component of conservation work in the former. The ecology/opinion dynamics interface is closely linked to the epidemiology/opinion dynamics interface, and so this second interface has emerged as an important thread in Dr Tyson’s work.
Dr. Jacques Bélair
Jacques Bélair is a biomathematician. Professor of Applied Mathematics at Université de Montréal, he obtained a PhD in applied mathematics from Cornell University and he was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology at McGill University. He has served as associate director of the Centre de recherches mathématiques (CRM), vice-dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, President of the Canadian Applied and Industrial Mathematics Society (CAIMS) (of which he is now Secretary), and co-chaired the Organizing Committee of the Annual Meeting of the Society for Mathematical Biology (SMB) in 2019.
His research interests revolve around the mathematical modeling of dynamic regulatory processes in biology, with an emphasis on the influence of time delays, formulated most often as delay-differential equations. In the past, he has published on cardiac arrhythmias, motor and balance control, blood cell production (hematopoiesis) and the propagation of infectious diseases. He is a currently a member of the Canadian Mathematical Modeling of COVID-19 Task Force.
Shari Graydon has a BA in Theatre and an MA in Communications from Simon Fraser University, where she also taught. Through her work at Informed Opinions, she has trained and supported thousands of scholars in translating their research insights and academic expertise into accessible and engaging commentary and analysis to help the broader public understand the importance and relevance of their work. Prior to founding Informed Opinions, she was a newspaper columnist, TV producer and award-winning non-fiction children’s author. In addition to responding to hundreds of media interviews, and delivering presentations to a wide variety of audiences herself, Shari has also written speeches for the Governor General, university presidents and several federal health ministers.