Nassif Ghoussoub re-appointed as Scientific Director of BIRS

Posted on Tue, Jun 18 2013 10:00:00

Nassif Ghoussoub has been re-appointed to a five-year term as Scientific Director of the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) beginning July 1, 2013.

"Under Ghoussoub's leadership BIRS has evolved to become one of the leading research institutions in the world," said Doug Mitchell, Chair of the BIRS Board of Directors. "BIRS is currently looking for ways to further expand opportunities for the mathematical sciences and we are extremely fortunate that Dr. Ghoussoub has agreed to continue to lead us into this next phase."

Dr. Ghoussoub is a Professor of Mathematics and a Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia. He has been a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 1993 and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society since 2012. For his research contributions he has received many awards including the Coxeter-James prize and the Jeffrey-Williams prize of the Canadian Mathematical Society.

Dr. Ghoussoub has been acknowledged worldwide for his many contributions to building Canadian and international research capacity and infrastructure, such as his role in the founding of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, the Mitacs network of centres of excellence and the Banff International Research Station. Among his most recent awards are the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and the David Borwein Distinguished Career Award. He is a recipient of a Doctorat Honoris Causa from the Université Paris-Dauphine, and was recently invited to receive the degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Victoria.

The 2014 Scientific Program

Posted on Fri, Feb 08 2013 16:55:00

We are pleased to announce the 2014 Scientific Program at BIRS!

Since its inception almost 10 years ago, the number of proposals submitted to BIRS went from 79 in 2003 (its inaugural year) to 168 this year. The extraordinary reaction to the opportunities at BIRS has led to extremely high quality competitions for the 48 slots that the Station runs every year.

Proposals and Reviews

This year’s competition for the 2014 program received 168 proposals submitted by 382 applicants. The selection process involved 800 evaluations by 412 international peer reviewers. By the end of the review process, 44 proposals were accepted for full 5-day workshops with 42 researchers, and 8 for concurrent 5-day workshops with 22 researchers.

The complete list is here: 2014 5-Day Workshops

This year’s proposals were catalogued in the following 31 categories:

2014 Proposal Categories

The committee first reviews each category, linearly ranking the proposals within it. Proposals are then selected by taking the top one or two in each category. In this way — and so long as there are first-rate proposals in each area — a distribution across the mathematical sciences and their applications is maintained. The BIRS Program Committee ranks proposals by scientific excellence and relevance alone, without regard for the geographical origin of the proposal. The commitment of the organizers is also a key criterion in the selection process. In return, the limited number of allowed participants forces the organizers to continue adhering to the highest standards.

The world’s scientific community owes a great deal to the ~30 members of the BIRS Scientific Advisory Board who have done a tremendous job reviewing the proposals in their own area of expertise and inputing their comments online. But the greatest deal of gratitude is owed to the 10 members of the Program Committee who read all 168 proposals, dissected all 800 reviews by peers, and who had to meet in person on a week-end away from home and family, and deliberate for long hours in order to make the final selection in a very competitive year.

Organizers have their preferences for when they would like to run their workshops. So, we ask them to submit their 5 top preferences as well as their “impossible dates”. Once the workshop selection is made, we feed their time preferences into a Monte-Carlo based computer program, which tries to maximize the number of favorable assignments. After running 10-million iterations for about 12 hours, we were happy to see that 82.69% of this year’s proposals will have at least one of their 5 preferred choices. Our sincere apologies to those who did not get one of their preferred dates.

The Mathematics of Planet Earth at BIRS

Posted on Tue, Dec 11 2012 12:51:00
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