Scientific Committee Meeting: April 2010

British Mathematical Colloquium
Scientific Committee Meeting


Time : Wednesday 7 April 2010, 17:30
Place : Room 2b, Appleton Tower

1. Apologies for absence

2. Confirmation of membership of the committee:

Peter Giblin (Liverpool) - until 31 May 2011

To be appointed, from the representatives of the 2011 venue (Leicester)

Cathy Hobbs (Oxford Brookes) - until 31 May 2010
Sandra Pott (Glasgow) - until 31 May 2011
Charles Goldie (Sussex) - until 31 May 2012

Peter Kropholler (Glasgow) - until 31 May 2010
Edmund Robertson (St Andrews) - until 31 May 2011

Maxwell Institute, Edinburgh (2010):
Jim Howie
Michael Singer

Leicester (2011):
John Hunton
Alex Clark

Kent (2012)
Peter Fleischmann
James Shank

Representative of the 2013 Venue, once this is announced at the 2010 AGM.
Representative of the 2010 BMC, elected at the 2010 AGM

Ex officio: Ivor Goddard, Executive Secretary of the LMS..

3. Minutes of meeting in De Morgan House on 24 September 2009 (to be circulated); matters arising not covered elsewhere.

4. Immediate impressions of the Edinburgh joint BMC/BAMC meeting
A full report will be on the agenda for the September 2010 meeting.

5. Progress on the Leicester meeting in 2011.

6. Plans for 2012 (Kent)

7. Chairmanship of the Scientific Committee. Peter Giblin retires from the Committee on 31 May 2011. The normal procedure for election of a successor is then as follows:
(i) A 'search committee' of two members of the Scientific Committee, other than the Chair, consults as appropriate and finds a suitable candidate who is willing to be Chair of the Scientific Committee for three years from 1 June 2011.
(ii) This person's name is brought to the full committee meeting in September 2010 for approval. (The Committee might also allow this person to attend the September 2010 meeting as an observer.)
(iii) The vacancy for a Chair, together with the name of the person as above, is advertised well in advance on the website of the 2011 BMC (Leicester), with a deadline of two weeks before the 2011 AGM for the receipt by the Chair of the local organizing committee of any other nominations for Chair of the Scientific Committee.
(iv) If necessary an election is held at the AGM in 2011; if only one candidate is forthcoming then the AGM is asked to approve this person as Chair for three years.

8. Support of the Scientific Committee by the London Mathematical Society. At present the LMS supports the Scientific Committee by paying expenses of all members to attend meetings, in London in (about) September each year, and at the BMC itself. The latter support amounts to travel and one night's accommodation, except for the Chair, whose full BMC expenses are reimbursed when this cannot be done from other sources. This level of support reflects the close connexion between the LMS and the BMC and is entirely separate from Programme Committee's support of the BMC itself.

It is appropriate for the LMS to review this level of support from time to time and Ivor Goddard, as ex officio member of the Scientific Committee, will report.

9. Any other business

10. Date of next meeting in September 2010 in De Morgan House.

Minutes for the meeting of 7 April 2010 at 2b Appleton Tower, Edinburgh

Present: Peter Giblin (Chair), Jim Howie (Maxwell Institute), Michael Singer (Maxwell Institute), John Hunton (Leicester), Alex Clark (Leicester), Peter Fleischmann (Kent), James Shank (Kent), David Jordan (Sheffield), Charles Goldie (LMS), Edmund Robertson (EMS), Richard Pinch (HGM), Sandra Pott (LMS), Isabelle Robinson (standing in for Ivor Goddard) (LMS)

1. Apologies

Peter Kropholler (Glasgow), Cathy Hobbs (Oxford Brookes) (LMS)

2. Confirmation of membership of the committee

Chair Peter Giblin (Liverpool), until 31 May 2011

Secretary Alex Clark (Leicester)


Cathy Hobbs (Oxford Brookes), until 31 May 2010, reappointed for 3 years

Sandra Pott (Glasgow), until 31 May 2011

Charles Goldie (Sussex), until 31 May 2012


Peter Kropholler (Glasgow), until 31 May 2010; successor Radha Kessar (Aberdeen)

Edmund Robertson (St Andrews), until 31 May 2011

Maxwell Institute, Edinburgh (2010) Jim Howie, Michael Singer

Leicester (2011) John Hunton, Alex Clark

Kent (2012) Peter Fleischmann, James Shank
Representative of the 2013 Venue David Jordan (Sheffield)

Representative of the 2010 BMC Richard Pinch (HMG)

Ex officio Ivor Goddard

Fiona Nixon reported to start in June.

3. Minutes of the last meeting

Minutes of the meeting in De Morgan House on 24 September 2009 were circulated and were accepted with no corrections. A related matter that arose in connection to item 5 of those minutes was how to avoid exceptionally high travel expenses such as that incurred by a plenary speaker in Galway (2009) who booked a first class plane ticket. Charles Goldie commented that for frequent travellers business class might be considered reasonable and that organisers should be free to negotiate such fares if deemed reasonable.

4. Impressions of the Edinburgh joint BMC/BAMC meeting

Generally favourable. The facilities were praised, although it was pointed out that at times there was not enough seating. Peter Giblin commented that some of the morning speakers had given overly technical talks that were not appropriate for a general meeting. It was suggested that for future meetings it be emphasised that morning speakers should deliver a colloquium style talk. Richard Pinch commented that the scientific committee had done a good job of cross over encouragement and that the joint meeting did not have the feel of two parallel meetings.

5. Progress on the Leicester meeting in 2011

John Hunton reported on the important developments. The dates have beenset as 18{21 April, 2011. The negotiations with the university over room hirehave advanced and were aided by the V. C. 's support of large conferences and by another large maths conference being held in 2011. This should result in the lecture room hire rate being reduced at least 50%, which in turn would lead to a lower than typical room hire rate. The university is setting up online registration facilities for which the BMC will serve as guinea pigs. The fee will be small. Potential plenary speakers have been contacted, with Elon Lindenstrauss (Princeton) and Karen Vogtmann (Cornell) agreeing to speak. Another potential speaker Manin will make his decision known in June. The funds from the LMS have been applied for and approved, including the funds for the novel workshops in the afternoon. There are plans to contact David Harman of the EPSRC for the funding of postgraduate students. Funding from publishers is also being pursued. It was noted that the EdMS had funded two of the speakers at the current (2010) meeting, and it was suggested that Jim Howie be contacted for possible funding for next year's meeting. Several possible morning speakers were suggested by the committee. It was noted that the LMS is now willing to fund the expenses of morning speakers.

6. Plans for 2012 (Kent)

Peter Fleischmann reported that the Kent meeting would adopt the afternoon workshop model of the Leicester meeting. Happily, the public engagement speaker Andrew Hodges (Turing biographer) has agreed to speak, giving a boost to the Turing theme of the meeting. It was noted that this might open the door to possible corporate sponsorship for the meeting and it was asked whether the committee could endorse a sponsorship request letter and whether it would be possible to name a lecture in honour of a sponsor. Peter Giblin responded that it is a possibility. Richard Pinch commented that a potential sponsor should not be offered more than they insist upon. Workshop possibilities suggested were: Noncommutative geometry, Algebraic transf., Mathematical physics and Theoretical computer science (the last two were encouraged as they might bring in people who do not usually participate).

7. Search for next Chair of the Scientific Committee

Edmund Robertson (EdMS) and Chathy Hobbs (LMS) will bring the name of a candidate to the September meeting as agreed by e-mail. This name will have to appear at the next AGM meeting. There will be notice of the vacancy and opportunity given for candidates to apply sometime shortly after Christmas, probably early January. The notice should include mention of the 'named name" that will be divulged in the September meeting.

8. Support of Conference by LMS

Isabelle Robinson said that the LMS would only fund meeting expenses for the September meeting for members of the Scientific Committee. Expenses for theBMC meeting itself for committee members could possibly be met but only if it were not possible to cover these expenses from other sources. It was asked whether she could check the possibility of covering accommodation for those travelling great distances, and it was pointed out that in some cases this could even save money. Michael Singer pointed out that the BMC model is precarious as it depends on the good will of organisers to volunteer time and departments to risk possible expense. Charles Goldie confirmed that the LMS is not in a position to offer insurance for picking up losses incurred by the BMC. It was pointed out that while Warwick lost thousands of pounds, no BMC since then has lost a significant amount of money. York did have to fight for months after the conference to get back room booking fees. Richard Pinch pointed out that while it was unfair to ask the LMS to issue a sort of general insurance for the BMC, he wondered whether the LMS might be able to cover a specific risk. It was asked that the LMS clarify what risks they would be willing to take on. Isabelle Robinson was not sure what the position of the LMS would be on this but would check.

9. Any other business

Michael Singer wondered how we could embed more young researchers into the BMC, especially in the planning process. Edmund Robertson suggested placing more young people on the Scientific Committee. Perhaps at the AGM a younger person could be selected. It was noted that the Leicester 2011 meeting did have a 'pre-meeting" planned for postgraduates.

In September the plenary speakers for the Leicester (2011) meeting will be discussed. One potential problem to be addressed for Sheffield (2012) is the housing, and it was noted that the hotel accommodation in Galway (2009) seemed to work.

Potential locations for the 2014 BMC were discussed. London was raised as a possibility, but Edmund Robertson pointed out that in the past this had proven very difficult. Oxford, Cambridge and Bristol were also brought up as possibilities. Oxford seems to be too expensive due to building costs. Cambridge does have the facilities, and it was pointed out that Ben Mestel from the Newton Institute was at the meeting.

It was noted that the BAMC should be contacted for establishing the timing of the next joint meeting. It was agreed that an approximate 5 year cycle was appropriate. It was suggested that the Heilbronn Institute might be willing to support the BMC or the joint meeting.

10. Date of next meeting

Peter Giblin requested information from members about possible dates for the next meeting. It was agreed that he would later circulate an e-mail to establish the date but that it would be held towards the end of September.