Posted on Fri, Dec 07 2012 11:05:00

en français...


Montreal, Canada – December 7, 2012 – More than 100 academic institutions and scholarly societies have joined in a major world-wide initiative: Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) 2013. This year-long effort will highlight the contributions made by mathematics in tackling global problems, including natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis; climate change; sustainability; and pandemics. MPE2013 partners will sponsor workshops, research conferences, public lectures, outreach events, and educational opportunities for all ages. Each country from a partner institution will host a special launch to the year.

MPE2013 enjoys the patronage of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. The Director-General of UNESCO, Irena Bokova, said, “UNESCO strongly supports this extraordinary collaboration of mathematicians around the world to advance research on fundamental questions about planet Earth, to nurture a better understanding of global issues, to help inform the public, and to enrich the school curriculum about the essential role of mathematics in the challenges facing our planet.” MPE2013 will bring public awareness of the interdisciplinary nature of scientific research and the unique role played by mathematics in facing global challenges. This broad initiative will involve top researchers in fields as diverse as medicine, engineering, and finance, as well as mathematics, to solve some of the world's most challenging problems. Mathematics will also play a role in the solution to long-term issues including security for e-finance, more accurate predictions of natural disasters, the adaptation of interacting ecosystems to change, and the spread of diseases.

“My dream is now shared by so many scientists around the world that MPE2013 is developing on its own. This unprecedented collaboration will last beyond 2013.” noted Christiane Rousseau, initiator of MPE2013 and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Montreal. “This broad initiative seeks to involve some of the world's finest minds to solve some of the world's toughest problems,” said Brian Conrey, leader of MPE2013 in the United States and Director of the American Institute of Mathematics.

Examples of recent applications of mathematics to MPE problems include:

  • improved strategies for recharging underground aquifers;
  • a better model for how government and industry can work together to decrease pollution;
  • successful modeling of the transmission of epidemic diseases allowing the design of strategies to control or eradicate them; and
  • developing a greater theoretical understanding of viruses and the drugs necessary to tackle them.
  • Long-term problems in which mathematics will play a role include:
  • quantifying uncertainty in climate change;
  • more accurate predictions of natural disasters including earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis;
  • the adaptation of ecosystems to climate change;
  • sustainable economic models; and
  • the preservation of biodiversity.

According to Mary Lou Zeeman, co-director of the Mathematics and Climate Research Network, “Mathematical modeling has given us a better understanding of how to combat infectious diseases. We can evaluate the percentage of the population that must be vaccinated to eradicate a disease and we can measure the impact of education and other interventions on the spread of a disease.”

“Achieving sustainability requires understanding the complex interactions between a vast number of systems including climate, economics, technological progress, geology, ecology, space science, population control, security, global politics, and mass psychology,” says Doyne Farmer, Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Complexity at the University of Oxford. “Sustainability forces us to think clearly about our vision of the future, putting philosophy into direct contact with science. As scientists our job is to try to understand causes and effects, both by making predictions and by quantifying the vast uncertainties in these predictions as best we can. But we need mathematicians to work with physicists, ecologists, economists, etc., to ensure that we are using the right model.”

MPE2013 can impact health care through a better understanding of how to control pandemics, and it can contribute to the green economy by aiding in the design of high-performance materials for batteries and solar cells.

Mathematics is becoming an increasingly popular career path for people who want to be part of the solution to the problems of our planet. High school and college students can share in the excitement of MPE2013 through new educational materials being developed for core mathematics courses. Activities, readings, and seminar lesson plans will be freely available to any teacher who wants to engage students in discovering how the mathematical sciences can have a global impact.

More about MPE2013

Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013 ( is an initiative of over 100 scientific societies, research institutes, universities, and organizations all over the world. The mission of the project is to encourage research in identifying and solving fundamental questions about planet Earth, encourage educators at all levels to communicate the issues related to planet Earth, inform the public about the essential role of the mathematical sciences in facing the challenges to our planet, and encourage young people interested in sustainability and global issues to consider mathematics as an exciting career choice. MPE2013 enjoys the patronage of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.

For more information, please see or contact:

Christiane Rousseau
Vice-President of the International Mathematical Union
+1 (514) 915-6081

John Toland
Director, Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge, UK
+44 1223 335999

Brian Conrey
Director, American Institute of Mathematics
+1 (650) 307-2736
+1 (650) 845-2071

Mary Lou Zeeman
Wells Johnson Professor of Mathematics, Bowdoin College
+1 (207) 725-3575

Mathematics of Planet Earth is launched!

Posted on Wed, Dec 05 2012 09:38:00

Doug Mitchell succeeds Karen Prentice as chair of the BIRS Board of Directors

Posted on Tue, Sep 25 2012 10:12:00

During her 3-year term at the helm of BIRS, Karen Prentice supervised the incorporation of the research station, consolidated its governance structure and firmed up its legal framework. She successfully led the renewal of the Station’s funding for 5 years from four partnering governments (Canada, Alberta, US and Mexico) and oversaw the transfer of its lecturing facilities to the beautiful Trans Canada Pipeline Pavilion at the Banff Centre. The thousands of scientists who participate in BIRS activities every year will always be grateful for her selfless service and her many contributions to the promotion of the mathematical sciences and their applications.

Douglas Mitchell is a pillar of both the Canadian sports and business communities, who has spent countless hours giving back to non-profit organizations and public companies lucky enough to have him. BIRS is now one of them as Doug Mitchell succeeds Karen Prentice as chair of its Board of Directors.

Doug Mitchell is National Co-Chair of Borden Ladner Gervais LLP. His law career is highlighted by specialties in Corporate and Commercial Law, as well as Commercial Real Estate and Sports Law. His current firm is a leading, full-service national law firm comprised of over 750 lawyers and property agents in six Canadian cities.

An active member of the community, he has served as Chair of the Calgary Airport Authority, and is now Co-Chair of the Banff Global Business Forum, Director of ParticipAction, and a member of the UBC Board of Governors. He is also Past Chair of the Alberta Economic Development Authority, SAIT Polytechnic’s Board of Governors, and Past President of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce.

Doug Mitchell has also been an important member of the Canadian sports community for years, both as a player and a leader. He attended Colorado College on a Hockey Scholarship before completed his degree in Law at the University of British Columbia and playing professional football for the B.C. Lions of the Canadian Football League (CFL). He served as a member of the National Hockey League Board of Governors from 1980 to 1984, and as Commissioner of the Canadian Football League (CFL) from 1984 to 1989. He was also Chairman of the 2005 Winter Goodwill Games.

In 2009, Mitchell’s family, friends and colleagues pledged a substantial donation to UBC for the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre winter sports complex in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to Canadian amateur sports. The Centre served as a hockey and sledge hockey host venue for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and is a central landmark of UBC’s Vancouver campus.

Doug Mitchell’s contributions have been recognized with many honors including the Order of Canada and the Alberta Order of Excellence. He was named one of Calgary’s 12 Most Influential Business People by the Calgary Herald and in 2010, was recognized as one of the Power 50 of Canadian sports by the Globe & Mail.

Call for Proposals 2014

Posted on Fri, Jun 15 2012 15:38:00

La version française suit ci-dessous.  La versión española sigue abajo.


The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is now accepting proposals for its 2014 program. The Station provides an environment for creative interaction and the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the mathematical, statistical, and computing sciences, and with related disciplines and industrial sectors.

Full information, guidelines, and online forms are available at the BIRS website:

BIRS is hosting a 48-week scientific program in 2014.  Each week, the station will be running either a full workshop (42 people for 5 days) or two half-workshops (each with 21 people for 5 days). As usual, BIRS provides full accommodation, board, and research facilities at no cost to the invited participants, in a setting conducive to research and collaboration.

The deadline for 5-day Workshop and Summer School proposals is Friday September 28, 2012.

In addition BIRS will operate its Research in Teams and Focused Research Groups programs, which allow smaller groups of researchers to get together for several weeks of uninterrupted work at the station. September 28, 2012 is also the preferred date to apply for these programs. However, proposals for projects involving Research in Teams or Focused Research Groups can be submitted at any time -- subject to availability -- they must be received at least 4 months before their requested start date.

Proposal submissions should be made using the online submission form.  Please use:


Nassif Ghoussoub

Scientific Director, Banff International Research Station




La station internationale de recherche en sciences mathématiques de Banff (BIRS) lance un appel à projets pour son programme de l’année 2014.  La mission de BIRS est de mettre à la disposition de la communauté scientifique internationale un environnement de recherche qui favorise les interactions et les échanges d'idées et de connaissances entre les membres des communautés mathématiques, statistiques, informatiques ainsi que leurs applications dans les sciences et dans le secteur industriel.

Des informations complètes ainsi que les formulaires à remplir en ligne sont disponibles sur le site Internet

Le programme scientifique de BIRS pour l'année 2014 sera composé de 48 semaines, chaque semaine consistant soit d'un atelier standard (42 personnes pour 5 jours) soit de deux demi- ateliers (21 personnes pour 5 jours).  BIRS fournit aux participants invités l’infrastructure de recherche appropriée, ainsi que le logement et les repas dans un cadre convivial, propice aux échanges d’idées et aux collaborations scientifiques.

La date limite pour le dépôt des dossiers concernant les ateliers et les écoles d'été est fixée au vendredi 28 septembre 2012.

De plus, BIRS continue de mener ses programmes de Recherche en Equipes (RIT) et de Groupes de Recherche (FRG), qui permettent à des équipes de chercheurs de se retrouver dans la station pour plusieurs semaines pour mener à bien un projet de recherche en collaboration.  Les dossiers de demandes pour ces programmes doivent -de préférence- être déposés aussi avant le 28 septembre 2012. Cependant, les dossiers concernant ces deux derniers programmes (FRG et RIT) seront également acceptés à tout autre moment à condition qu’ils soient soumis au moins 4 mois avant la date à laquelle le projet est supposé débuter.

Les dossiers de candidature doivent être soumis sur Internet à l'adresse suivante:


Nassif Ghoussoub

Directeur, Banff International Research Station




La Estación de Investigación Internacional de Banff para la Innovación y el Descubrimiento (BIRS) matemático esta aceptando propuestas para su programa en 2014. La estación proporciona un ambiente de interacción creativa y de intercambio de ideas, conocimiento y métodos dentro de las ciencias matemáticas, estadísticas y computacionales así como de disciplinas relacionadas y de sectores industriales.

Mas información, reglas y formatos estan disponibles en el sitio del BIRS:

BIRS esta organizando un programa científico para el 2014 de 48 semanas. Cada semana, la estación tendrá o un taller completo (42 personas por 5 días) o dos talleres parciales (cada uno con 21 personas por 5 días). Como es de costumbre, BIRS provee de hospedaje, comida y facilidades de investigación por ningún costo a los participantes invitados en un ambiente que conduce a la investigación y a la colaboración.

La fecha limite para propuestas para el taller de 5 días y la escuela de verano es el Viernes, 28 de Septiembre, 2012.

Ademas, BIRS estará operando sus investigaciones en equipos y en programas de grupos de investigación enfocadas, lo cual permitirá que los investigadores se junten por varias semanas sin interrupciones en la estación. El 28 de Septiembre, 2012 también es el día preferido para la aplicación a estos programas. Sin embargo, propuestas para proyectos que involucren investigaciones en equipos y de grupos de investigación enfocadas pueden ser presentadas a cualquier momento -- sujeto a disponibilidad -- deberán ser recibidos por lo menos 4 meses antes del día propuesto para el comienzo.

Propuestas deberían hacerse por medio del formato en linea.  Por favor usar:


Nassif Ghoussoub

Director Científico, Estación de Investigación Internacional de Banff



Watch the Live Video Stream from BIRS

Posted on Fri, May 04 2012 10:49:00
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