Save pure mathematics at the VU University of Amsterdam

There is an online petition to protest the planned closure of the geometry section of the mathematics department at the VU University of Amsterdam.    Some further discussion of this event is at this MathOverflow thread.

ERA results for mathematical sciences in Australia

The 2010 ERA (Excellence in Research Australia) results were released by the ARC on 31 January 2011. Comprehensive reports are available from the ARC ERA 2010 webpage.

Forty-one tertiary institutions submitted research outputs to be evaluated. Out of these, 17 did not receive an assessment in the mathematical sciences. This means that these 17 institutions did not have enough research publications in mathematical sciences in the six-year reference period to meet the ERA minimum threshold. What is this threshold? It is a minimum of 50 research outputs (or 30 outputs in the case of pure mathematics) in the reference period: 01 January 2003 – 31 December 2008.

To understand this a little more, consider a fictional mathematics department with ten research active staff members publishing one paper each per year in a mathematical journal. This department would have 60 research outputs over the reference period and so would receive an ERA assessment. The reality in Australia is that many tertiary institutions do not have such numbers of mathematically active staff.

The evaluations were carried out within bins called Field of Research (FoR) Codes. The 2-digit FoR code 01 represents mathematical sciences as a whole, within which 4-digit FoR codes represent pure mathematics 0101, applied mathematics 0102, numerical and computational mathematics 0103, statistics 0104, mathematical physics 0105 and other mathematical sciences 0199.

The FoR-based system complicates conclusions because many mathematicians may publish in journals that are codified to other fields (e.g., bioinformaticians may publish in medical and biological journals), while many scientists who do not see themselves as mathematicians may publish in journals codified to mathematics (e.g., engineers may have published in applied mathematical journals).

In addition to the 17 institutions mentioned above, 1 received an assessment at the most macroscopic 2-digit mathematics FoR code, i.e., 01, with no assessment in any four-digit mathematics FoR code. An additional 5 institutions received an assessment in only one of the four-digit mathematical FoR codes along with an assessment at the two-digit FoR level. Only 12 institutions over all received an assessment in the FoR code 0104 (statistics).

The ARC is hurrying onto the next round of ERA assessments. ERA2012 will assess the output of staff counted on the census date 31 March 2011, whose output appeared in the reference period 1 January 2005 – 31 December 2010.

Junior positions at ANU

The math department at the ANU (Australian National University) is advertising five junior jobs, two of them permanent and three postdocs. More information can be found at

(Via Amnon Neeman)

AustMS now on twitter

The AustMS now has a twitter feed, which has now also been added to the sidebar of this blog. (Via Nalini Joshi)

Research not bad, but not stellar

As reported by the Australian, the Australian Innovation System Report 2010 ranks physics, geosciences, space sciences, environment and mathematics among Australia’s strongest research fields (as measured by impact factor of publications), with the country as a whole ranked 16th among OECD countries.   (via Birgit Loch)

L’Oréal Australia For Women In Science Fellowships

[From Nalini Joshi -T.]

Applications for the 2010 L’Oréal Australia For Women In Science Fellowships are now open and close on Monday 3 May.
The three $20,000 Fellowships are intended to help early-career women scientists to consolidate their careers and rise to leadership positions in science.
The Fellowships are awarded to women  who have completed their PhD in the last five years (allowance is made for maternity leave),   have shown scientific excellence in their career to date and  have an appropriate research plan that will be assisted by the one-year Fellowship.

The L’Oréal Australia For Women In Science Fellowships are now in their fourth year. They are supported by the Australian Academy of Science and the Australian National Commission for UNESCO.

The Fellowships are highly competitive and  potential nominees are encouraged to read the brief profiles of past recipients before applying.
Full criteria for eligibility, application instructions and profiles of past Fellows are online at <
Read about past Fellows at <>

Applications close at midnight on Monday 3 May 2010 and will only be accepted via the online form.

Postdoctoral position (Level A) in mathematics at Australian National University

The Mathematical Sciences Institute at the Australian National
University is currently advertising a 2 year postdoctoral position, funded by a new ARC grant awarded to Andrew Hassell, in spectral theory/microlocal
analysis/harmonic analysis/PDE.

The closing date for applications is Feb 5.

This position is most suitable for someone with a recent PhD (e.g.
within the past 3 years) or who is expecting to get their PhD by mid-2010, although anyone is eligible to apply.

It is a research only position, of duration approx. 2 years, with no formal teaching duties. It is expected that the successful candidate will work at least partly on research proposed in the grant, including quantum ergodicity and quantum chaos, and global analytic properties of Laplace-type operators on noncompact Riemannian manifolds, particularly manifolds with structure at infinity such as asymptotically conic, asymptotically hyperbolic, etc.

See for further information
and instructions for how to apply. For enquiries, contact
Andrew.Hassell “at”

Cheryl Praeger named as 2009 Western Australian Scientist of the Year

Cheryl Praeger at UWA has just been named 2009 Western Australian Scientist of the Year, after becoming a finalist last week.    Congratulations Cheryl!

[Via SymOmega.]

Positions at Australian National University

[Via Jim Borger.]

Permanent positions
These positions are at levels B and C, which are the Australian equivalent of an assistant or associate professorship. It is important to add that, as is usual in the Australian system, the positions at both levels are permanent — there is no serious tenure-review process. All strong candidates currently in post-docs or tenure-track positions are encouraged to apply.

Some preference may be given to the areas of algebra and algebraic geometry, broadly interpreted. We are also looking for someone in stochastic analysis, statistics and applications. But we welcome strong applications in all areas. For applicants in Applied Mathematics, Mathematical Physics, and Statistics, joint appointments with other departments will be considered.

The teaching duties are approximately “2 and 1”, for a total of 3 semester-length classes per year. There is also the possibility of having that reduced.

The closing date for these positions is 30 November 2009.

Post-doc positions
There will be 3 post-docs.  They are purely or primarily research positions.

1. Complex and/or differential geometry and/or Lie groups
This is a five-year fixed-term position.
There will be some teaching duties.
The closing date for this position is 30 November 2009.
Contact Michael Eastwood for more information.

The following two post-docs are awaiting administrative go-ahead and will soon be open for application.

2. Algebraic geometry and/or algebraic topology
This will be a three-year position, with a possibility of renewal.
Any teaching duties will be minimal.
Contact Amnon Neeman for more information.

3. Number theory and/or algebraic geometry
This will be a two-year position, with a possibility of renewal.
Any teaching duties will be minimal.
Contact James Borger for more information.

How to apply

The easiest way is to apply directly to the Mathematics Department. To do this, email the following to
1. an application letter (‘cover letter’) saying which position
you’re applying for and giving the names and email addresses of
three references
2. a CV

For more information, go to the following page:

Mathematics skills out for the count

Two recent articles in the Daily Telegraph, “Students in almost 60 percent of high schools taught by unqualified teachers” and “Mathematics skills out for the count“, highlight two key (and related) concerns in Australian mathematics education: the continuing shortages of skilled maths teachers in high schools (with one in five schools having at least one maths teacher without full qualifications, according to a recent Australian Education Union survey), and the long-term decline in enrollments in advanced maths classes (stabilising a bit in the last year or so, but still 15-25 percent below the numbers from a decade earlier).

[Thanks to Phillip Booker for the links.]