Busy Break – Busy 2013

German Christmas Candies

German Christmas Candies

I decided to return to Europe for the two weeks of winter break to see my girlfriend and to celebrate Christmas in Germany. Furthermore, I wanted to realize a long dream: to celebrate New Year in Berlin!

In the following list you see a short order of events:

  1. Flight: Dakar-Madrid and Madrid-Paris (22.12/23.12)
  2. Trainride: Paris-Mannheim (24.12)
  3. Christmas in Freinsheim (24.12-29.12)
  4. Visiting Cologne, Essen and Hagen (29.12-31.12)
  5. New Year in Berlin (31.12-3.1)
  6. Flight: Berlin-Paris (3.1)
  7. Relaxing in Paris (3.1-5.1)
  8. Flight: Paris-Madrid and Madrid-Dakar (5.1)

Over the break I did not do much work and focused on enjoying a good time. However, during the last week I was ill which enabled me to do at least some computer work. On the weekend when I felt better we had some meetings to discuss the progress of different projects.

Concretely, I am currently involved in the following activities for 2013:

  1. Preparation: Summer School in Quantum Information Theory
    Together with Robert Jonsson I will teach a course on quantum information theory at the beginning of August: the school is offered for talented highschool students (German: Deutsche Schülerakademie) I am very excited about this opportunity.
  2. Writing: Lecture Notes on Shape Dynamics
    I started to write some lecture notes on my current research that I would like to finish soon. You find the current version on the course page of my Sunday lectures.
  3. Production: AIMS Movie
    We still have to film some student interviews, some intro animations and a conversation with Neil Turok, founder of AIMS. Morgan, Pavel and I are optimistic to finish a version within the next month.
  4. Launch: African Opportunity Network
    Yannick, Pavel and I were working hard to launch the official website for the African Opportunity Network.
  5. Lobbying: PSI Alumni Conference 2014
    The PSI Alumni Committee is thinking about lobbying for a re-union of four generations of PSI in the form of an scientific conference at Perimeter Institute in 2014.
  6. Preparation: Internship at Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin
    At the end of April I will begin an internship at GPPi in Berlin and I try to start reading about public policy and relevant stakeholders to get grasp on this unknown field.
  7. Research: Perturbative approach to Shape Dynamics
    With Tim Koslowski I am continuing a collaboration from my Master’s thesis and I am spending the remaining time beside my tutor job and other activities on tricky calculations involving tons of Poisson brackets.

I am very excited what else 2013 will bring. My plans reach until the 17th of August when Robert’s and my summer school on quantum information ends – what I will do next or where I will hopefully begin my PhD is open. Stay tuned…

Into December

The last couple of weeks were very intense, but after I reached maximal stress level last week it is getting more relaxed as the application deadlines for the American universities approach. There were a lot of things going on since I wrote my last post:

  1. Video Production
    We worked on our video production for which we interviewed the director of the IRD, the French institute for research in development. The IRD supports AIMS Sénégal since the beginning and its current director Michel Laurent is also member of AIMS’ executive board. Morgan and I went to Dakar where the annual board meeting took place to use the opportunity to film some interviews with Mr. Laurent and other board members.
  2. GRE Test
    I traveled to Boston where I wrote the two compulsory GRE tests for my applications: The General GRE and the GRE Subject Test for Physics. I don’t have my results yet, but at the moment I’m just relieved that it is over. Especially, as I had the feeling that learning for the GRE used some resources that I would have preferred to spend otherwise (see next projects).
  3. Turning AIMS bilingual
    Back from Boston we had a very interesting discussion among the AIMS tutors how to implement bilingualism at AIMS: up to now many students can speak both, English and French, but those who could not on their arrival did not proceed as much as they could have. A competent language teacher is missing. I suggested for next year that we could advertise the position internationally to find a highly dynamical and committed language teacher and change the student selection to balance the numbers of native speakers in English and French (currently most students have a French background).
  4. African Opportunity Network
    Yannick, Pavel and I started to work on the website of a new project supporting African students pursuing  a career in mathematical sciences. When professor Banyaga from PennState University taught at AIMS Sénégal he gave also a talk on the problems of African applicants at Western Universities: they are not used to the sort of application and especially good recommendation letters are difficult to get as many African professors do not know how to write good reference letters. Yannick, one of our very committed students, asked if there exists a support network to guide talented Africans through Western application procedures. We could not find anything and so we are going to start it: we want to bring professors from all over the world together with African students to guide during their first steps into modern research (Master’s and PhD).

For Christmas I will return to Germany and celebrate New Year in Berlin.

Video Production proceeds

Two weeks ago, I started to work with Morgan Pascal and Pavel Chvykov on an Outreach Video for AIMS Sénégal. Our plan is go into post-production in January 2013, but until then there is some work to do: We have to schedule interviews, present our concepts to the students and employees of AIMS Sénégal and to organize a fast computer to actually do video editing. But we are on a good way:

  • In our first week we interviewed, Tanja Fröhlich, representative of the German Ministry of Education and research, that supports AIMS Sénégal by funding a research center for applied mathematics.
  • Last week, we filmed Clarisse Uwizeye, a student of this year, who wrote a song about the wonderful atmosphere at the institute. We hope that we can use parts of this great music in our movie. Furthermore, Neil Turok is planning to use the footage for his presentations about the AIMS idea. You can watch the song.

German Institutions visit AIMS Sénégal

Günter Nooke, German Chancellor’s G8 Personal Representative for Africa in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, visits AIMS Sénégal

I didn’t expect to meet any Germans during my time in Sénégal: I wanted to learn French. However, since I arrived no less than four German institutions sent their representatives to AIMS Sénégal to get an impression of Neil Turok’s idea “building science in Africa”. It was interesting to meet German institutions from this perspective, as an employee of an institute that they support.

The German institutions decided to fund a research center for applied mathematics based at AIMS Sénégal. For this five shortlisted candidates of a faculty position paid by the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation were invited to interview sessions and talks.
We are excited to see when the research center is going to start.

First Post

This is the first post and a first test of my blog. I’m very excited to see it starting. The goal is to post once a months to provide up-to-date information about what I’m just doing.

At the moment, I’m working on my homepage, learn for the GRE (in order to apply for US PhD programs) and last, but not least (in fact, my major occupation) I’m teaching mathematics at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Sénégal.