2016/17 SCHOOL OF
WELCOME It has been another exciting year for the School, the Hamilton Mathematics Institute welcomed two Fields Medal winners, leading physicist Peter Higgs was awarded an Honorary Degree and three new scholars and a fellow were announced.
Associate Professor John Stalker Head of School
Professor Tristan McLoughlin hosted the Young Researchers Integrability School and Workshop 2017 which was a great success. We welcomed back alumni to the School throughout the year as we initiated our first GradLink Mentoring Programme. Our alumni appreciated the opportunity to mentor current students and reconnect with their alma mater. We were also delighted to welcome new staff member Larry Rolen who is our new Ussher Assistant Professor in Number Theory and Cryptography. Thanks to a generous donation from the Hamilton Trust as well as support from the School, we are excited to announce a mathematics research internship programme commencing summer 2017. On the international stage the 13th JL Synge Public Lecture took place, a great networking opportunity for our alumni. This summer Trinity Walton Club are expanding their international reach through the inclusion of a residential and cultural component for international students from around the world. Sinead Ryan, Professor of Theoretical High Energy Physics in the School has been made the August-Wilhelm Scheer Visiting Professor at the institute for Advanced Study, Techniche UniversitĂ¤t MĂźnchen.
I hope that you enjoy catching up with events in the School from the past year. It is always a pleasure to hear from alumni so if you have anything that you would like to share then please get in touch. For updates on events and lectures throughout the year visit our webpage www.maths.tcd.ie
Newsletter 2016 – 2017
Hamilton Mathematics Institute Welcomes Two Fields Medal Winners The Hamilton Mathematics Institute (HMI) welcomed a number of world-leading mathematicians to an international conference in February. Among them were two Fields Medal winners, Maxim Kontsevich (IHES) and Andrei Okounkov (Columbia University). The Fields Medal – dubbed the mathematician’s ‘Nobel Prize’ - is one of the highest honours that a mathematician can receive. It is awarded to mathematicians under 40 at the International Congress of the International Mathematical Union (IMU). Maxim Kontsevich is a Professor at the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques and a distinguished Professor at the University of Miami. In 1998, he won the Fields Medal for his contributions to four problems of Geometry. Andrei Okounkov is a Professor at Columbia University. He received the Fields Medal in 2006 for his contributions to bridging probability, representation theory and algebraic geometry.
York University), Nikita Nekrasov (Simons Centre for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook University) and Yuri Tschinkel (NYU and Simons Foundation).
Other distinguished speakers at the HMI conference included Gregory Gabadadze (New
Last year the HMI was awarded a grant of $600,000 through the Simons Foundation
Announcement of New Fellows and Scholars
Congratulations to the new Trinity Fellows & Scholars including Professor Stefan Sint FTCD and three scholars in Mathematics: Daniel Mulcahy, Ronan O’Gorman and Oisin Flynn Connolly.
L-R: HMI board members and guest speakers at the HMI conference: Gregory Gabadadze (New York University), Nikita Nekrasov (Simons Centre for Geometry and Physics, Stony Brook), Samson Shatashvili (University Chair of Natural Philosophy (1847) at Trinity & Director HMI), Yuri Tschinkel (NYU and Simons Foundation), Volker Schomerus (DESY) Andrei Okounkov (Columbia University) and Maxim Kontsevich (IHES)
which supports centres of excellence in mathematics and physical sciences by providing funding to establish scientific culture and strengthen contacts within the international scientific community.
Leading Physicist Peter Higgs Awarded Honorary Degree On foot of his nomination by the School of Mathematics, Nobel Prize winner and world leading physicist, Professor Peter Higgs who discovered Higgs Boson, was conferred Doctor in Science at Trinity in June 2016. Professor Higgs was jointly awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics with the Belgian scientist Francois Englert for their theory about the existence of a fundamental particle of the universe that confers mass on to matter. Scientists using the Large Hadron Collider at Cern in 2012, confirmed that they had found a particle that matched this theory. It marked the culmination of 49 years of work since Professor Higgs first described the new type of particle while working at Edinburgh University. Over the years Professor Higgs has maintained strong links with Ireland.
Professor Peter Higgs pictured left with Joe Veselsky, Trinity’s oldest student who was also awarded an honorary Master of Arts degree
Hamilton Scholars and Fellows
The Hamilton Scholars programme, which honours the Irish mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, a celebrated graduate of Trinity, has been established with the generous support of Trinity’s alumni and friends.
Nicholas Aido, Ph.D.
The Hamilton Scholars aims to produce a cohort of exceptional Ph.D. students whose work is expected to have a significant international impact in their chosen area of specialisation.
Nicholas is our most recent Hamilton Scholar. He has a B.A. in Mathematics and Economics from the University of Ghana and an M.Sc. in Mathematical Sciences from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim. Nicholas will be working under the supervision of Professor Andreea Nicoara. His project entails learning not just classical several complex variables but also becoming conversant with methods in geometry as well as algebraic geometry.
Larry Rolen, new Ussher in Number Theory and Cryptography
Professor Rolen’s research interests lie in number theory, and especially modular forms and their connections with combinatorics and other fields of mathematics, as well as their various generalisations such as harmonic Maass forms and quantum modular forms. Professor Rolen holds a Ph.D. from Emory University and he joins the School of Mathematics from Penn State University.
Lattice Quantum A Tribute to Trevor West Chromodynamics Professor Mike Peardon joined the School of Mathematics in 2000. He is course co-ordinator for the one year full-time taught masters programme in High Performance Computing. Professor Mike Peardon has published an insightful new work ‘Lattice Quantum Chromodynamics’. This book provides the essentials to be able to give independent contributions to the field of lattice gauge theory and defines a ‘common language’ between physicists, mathematicians and computer scientists.
Launch of The Bold Collegian - A Tribute to Trevor West
A book on the life, achievements, and interests of cherished colleague and friend of the School of Mathematics was launched in the Senior Common Room, Trinity in October 2016.
Professor Trevor West spent 50 years at Trinity from 1956 to 2004 under a number of roles; a Trinity academic, mathematician, Senator, Junior Dean, sportsman and sports administrator, historian of the cooperative movement, peacemaker and governor of Middleton College, Cork. Having taken a maths degree in 1963, he returned to Trinity a few years later to teach, armed with a doctorate from Cambridge. Passionate about college sports, West was crucially involved in the administration and development of sport in Irish universities, as well as contributing in a significant way to the Northern Ireland peace process. The Bold Collegian, compiled by Trevor’s widow Maura Lee West, is a collection of more than 24 essays by notable contributors including Mary Robinson, Sean D. Barrett, Ulick O’Connor, Professor John Kelly, Dean John McCarthy, Iggy McGovern and Michael West, a fitting tribute to a much-loved legend.
Newsletter 2016 – 2017
Student Engagement GradLink Mentoring Programme
The School of Mathematics initiated its first GradLink Mentoring Programme in 2017. The programme is run in conjunction with the Trinity Alumni Office and the Careers Advisory Service. GradLink aims to develop current Junior Sophister student’s knowledge of the labour
market and career paths through nurturing career learning, relationships with alumni mentors working in a range of career areas. The School of Mathematics invited alumni with three years or more professional experience to sign up to be a mentor for the programme during the call out to mentors in September. Volunteering as a mentor involved meeting with a small group of students (up to three students) on approximately three occasions during the academic year. The focus of these meetings was generally professional development and other career-related topics. The time commitment of the programme to mentors was approximately 10 hours, inclusive of the launch event. As part of the launch event, we asked each graduate to speak for one to two minutes on their career to date. The overview can include a short synopsis of their profile, topics that can best
help students within a mentoring capacity and any mentoring benefits that the graduate has experience in their life. Following that we host a reception for the mentors, students and academic staff from the School.
Hamilton Trust supports Summer Internship Programme for Undergraduates Thanks to a generous donation from the Hamilton Trust as well as support from the School, we are excited to announce a mathematics research internship programme commencing summer 2017. The six week programme will offer maths TP, and TSM maths undergraduates of any year the opportunity to work in groups on exciting research projects in maths under the supervision of a member of staff. Interns will also attend a weekly seminar during the course and will also give a seminar talk introducing the topic of their project. The selection process will not rely on exam marks but will also consider the quality of projects proposed by the students. Interns will receive a moderate amount of financial support over the course of the programme. “The School of Mathematics is very grateful for the generous donation from the Hamilton Trust to support a large internship programme this year. The programme will support 19 bright young students, who will be working
in a well-rounded array of topics. This is an amazing opportunity for the students to get hands-on experience, a feel for what it is to do real research and gives their early careers a huge boost. Many are already beginning their studies and preparations for their research, and we can expect progressive results from their work.” Professor Larry Rolen The Hamilton Trust is an educational charity which was set up in 1988 by Sir Mike O’Regan to support students and teachers of Mathematics, Science and English. Sir Mike is a great-greatgrandson of Trinity mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton. “I set up Hamilton Trust, proudly borrowing the name from my ancestor, as an educational charity based in Oxford with its main objective – then as now – being to support education in the UK. However, recently, I also wanted the Trust to have some involvement in Ireland and so I am delighted that we have been able to enter into a collaboration with Trinity, and specifically in this
Sir Mike O’Regan
internship programme. I have no doubt that the students involved will gain great benefit and stimulation from their participation and I very much look forward to hearing how they get on.” Sir Mike O’Regan
International News 13th Annual JL Synge Public Lecture
Head of School, Associate Professor John Stalker with speaker Professor George Efstathiou FRS
The 13th JL Synge Public Lecture took place in December 2016. The lecture entitled ‘The Birth of the Universe’ was presented by Professor George Efstathiou FRS, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge and the first Director of the Kavil Institute of Cosmology at Cambridge. The lecture was followed by a wine reception in the foyer of the O’Reilly Institute. The biannual lecture series is a wonderful opportunity for alumni and friends of the School to hear distinguished speakers and reconnect with friends.
Professor Petros Florides introducing the Annual JL Synge Lecture
Young Researchers Integrability School and Workshop
During the reading week of Hilary Term the School and Hamilton Mathematics Institute hosted YRISW 2017. The event, organised by Professor Tristan McLoughlin brought together over 50 young researchers, mostly Ph.D. students and postdoctoral researchers, with an interest in integrability in gauge and string theory from Ireland, Europe and further afield for a week long school and workshop. The first three days were made
up of introductory lectures on recent exciting developments by Roberto Tateo from Torino, Shota Komatsu from Perimeter and Trinity’s Dmytro Volin combined with hands-on, informal afternoon sessions lead by promising young scientists in the field - Stefano Negro, João Caetano, both from LPTENS in Paris, and Trinity’s Christian Marboe. The lectures were very well received and it is planned to publish them as a special journal
edition. The event also included training in presentation and interview skills and the final day was devoted to a mini-conference made up of research talks and posters by participants (all of which can be found on the conference website). The meeting was such a success that there are already plans to continue the series with another event to be held in Ascona, Switzerland in 2018.
Newsletter 2016 – 2017
Trinity Walton Club to Expand Internationally
Since 2014 Trinity Walton Club’s STEM education enrichment programme has welcomed over 1,000 post-primary students aged between thirteen and seventeen onto Trinity’s campus. The majority of these students have come from Ireland, with some from continental Europe. This summer we are excited to grow our international reach through the inclusion of a residential and cultural component for international students from around the world. Founding Director and Trinity, School of Physics Professor Arlene O’Neill says, “we are immensely
excited to welcome a group of enthusiastic STEM pioneers from around the world to Trinity this summer. These students will be immersed in what we hope will be a transformative and diverse educational experience, developed by university academics, and facilitated by Trinity researchers. As the programme expands to cohorts of American and international students, newly hired American high school teacher turned Programme Coordinator Kat Weiser shares O’Neill’s excitement: I think it’s a neat opportunity for students from outside of Ireland to explore their academic interests while broadening their cultural and social horizons.” Trinity Walton Club was formed through a unique collaboration between the Schools of Physics, Mathematics and Education, and has grown from the recognition of the strategic importance of investing in the STEM education of post-primary students to promote Ireland’s continued achievement across STEM. As we grow internationally, we seek to establish Trinity, as well as Ireland, as an international hub for aspiring STEM pioneers.
Timothy Gayleard Murphy (In Memoriam)
Many will remember Timothy for his various lecture courses on diverse topics in algebra and number theory. Amongst major initiatives that Tim championed, several were related to 6
computing. In 1980 he managed to persuade the Professors (Murdoch and Spearman) to allow a PDP-11 computer to darken the doors of the School. With the aid of various gurus (or maybe they were hackers) he set up a UNIX system and ran it in such a way that a lot of the power was vested in student system administrators. While this did not go down so well with the authorities, it was a fantastic system that allowed successive generations of system administrators to get substantial experience of running a complex system. The choice of UNIX over other rival systems was an example of Tim’s ability to foresee trends. Another was his interest in LATEX and his conviction that it was the best system for Mathematical typesetting, a conclusion he reached earlier than most. Tim regarded computing as merely a branch of Mathematics (or so he used to say, perhaps
provocatively) and one of his conclusions based on that belief was that a joint degree in Mathematics and Computing should exist. Although this degree has not materalised yet, the M.Sc. in High Performance Computing can be seen as a variant on Tim’s plan. Tim did successfully ensure that JF maths and science students were introduced to UNIX and C programming for quite a few years. The module code 061 may evoke memories for many past students. Several may also recall Tim’s style of lecturing and his amazingly clear blackboard writing. All of us who worked with him, his many friends and fellow students will miss him greatly.
Interview with Alumna – Emma Jenkins I remember the musty smell of the 1937 Reading Room. We all had our favourite spots, either on the upper level where you could see all the comings and goings, or right down in the basement in between all the stacks of books. I loved how the sun would stream over the old wooden scratched benches in the lecture room on the first floor of 30 New Square in the mornings. I was so sad when the Maths Department moved down to the Science end of campus. Somehow being in the middle of college between the arts and sciences, and next door to the engineers, seemed fitting given that we shared courses with the two subject moderators (TSMs), engineers, and the theoretical and experimental physicists (TPs and EPs). Emma Jenkins, B.A. Mathematics (1992) and Gold Medal Winner
Who made an impression on you while being a student in Trinity?
I never really knew what I wanted to do when I grew up, and I envied other children who knew exactly what they wanted to do. When I was very young, I wanted to be my dad’s secretary, but he knew that wouldn’t happen when he couldn’t do my maths homework anymore.
My first lecture was with Dr Fry and I knew nothing about quantum mechanics or string theory at the time. I couldn’t help wondering what on earth I had got myself into. I remember Professor Sen proclaiming “Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever seen?” as he stood back from the board and surveyed the final parts of a proof that had taken several lectures to get through. I could barely follow the proof and was horrified looking at it, but his enthusiasm was infectious. I was glad I just needed to know it to get through the course, and felt sorry for the theoretical physicists who actually needed to use it. Many of my lecturers were real characters with lots of eccentricities and quirks, and often preferring the ordered and tractable world of mathematics and computing to the messier real one. I admired them, but realised that the world of academia was not for me.
What is your fondest memory from your Trinity days?
Where did your love of maths come from?
When I was living in rooms, I loved coming back into college after midnight, particularly knocking at front gate and then being let through into a dimly lit silent Front Square. The hustle and bustle of the city was all outside, and it was so peaceful and quiet walking back over the cobbles.
I always found maths easy. I like knowing when something is right, completely right. You don’t get that when you study literature or history. I found the transition from school maths (with lots of numbers) to college maths (absolutely no numbers) tricky, but I’ve always thrived on a steep learning curve.
After graduating, Emma worked for several global investment banks in London and Sydney. She specialised in commodity derivatives and related financing facilities, initially in metals, and later in energy and agriculture markets. In 2006, she left banking to found EJJ International Limited and subsequently became a partner at Cambridge Risk Limited. Her clients include multi-national resource companies, exchanges, central banks, regulators, physical commodity traders and manufacturers.
What was your childhood ambition?
What has stayed with me is an ability to define problems in an abstract manner and see how situations which seem to be so different are actually similar and can be solved with a common technique. I enjoy distilling real world messy situations and finding a practical (and preferably elegant) solution.
What are you doing these days? My work divides into three main areas at the moment, all centred on commodities markets. I am a director and partner at Cambridge Risk Limited, which is a regulated risk advisory company which specialises in commodity, interest rate and foreign exchange rates. We help our clients put in place the risk management strategies that are right for their business (not just the one that their lender wants) and we ensure fair transparent pricing. Secondly, I am often engaged as an expert witness in matters relating to commodity derivatives. With EJJ International Limited, I travel frequently delivering training courses on commodities, derivatives and financing. One of the most interesting parts of my current work is dealing with pricing risk in physical commodity contracts. Clever wording can grant one party a lot of optionality, sometimes without the other party realising the value that they are conceding. And often it is not trivial to put a number on that value.
Do you have any advice for current students? Choose courses and topics that you enjoy, rather than based on their potential utility for a future career. When offered an opportunity, take it. You never know where it might lead you.
What ambitions do you still have? I plan to keep seeking out professional and personal challenges, and I would like to work out how to fall off a horse without breaking anything.
Remember. The power of a legacy to Trinity There’s an old saying that the true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade one does not expect to sit. When you leave a legacy to Trinity however big or small, you’re planting a tree which will grow to provide shelter to many. You’re empowering ground-breaking research which will benefit people in Ireland and all over the world. You’re supporting students from all backgrounds to access a Trinity education. You’re helping preserve our unique campus and heritage for new generations.
When you remember Trinity in your will, you join a tradition of giving that stretches back over 400 years – and reaches far into the future. For more information about leaving a Legacy to Trinity, please contact Carmen Leon.
Upcoming Alumni Events
Trinity has a long tradition of outreach and community engagement. To find out about the numerous ways you can get involved with Trinity both at home and abroad, please visit www.tcd.ie/alumni/volunteer
Alumni Weekend 25-27 August 2017
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