Friday, April 01, 2016

Fourteenth Anniversary

While others may remember this day as April Fool's day, we, at the institute, celebrate this day as the 14th anniversary of the day that INSPEM is established. It was on the 1st April 2002 that the formation of the institute is officially declared. The groundwork for it is of course went much earlier and can even be traced back to a conceived idea declared during a national conference way back in 1988. I was not there then and also during the beginning of the institute but I joined the institute only four years later. Nevertheless, I believe I'm very much part of the institute now.

Today we will not have a birthday bash or at least have not planned one as yet. Perhaps more meaningful for us is the forthcoming workshop on our KPIs and strategic planning scheduled on 13th April 2016. Note that we are aware that this is considered late but this is due very much to many of our activities early in the year. We are currently in our 'teen' phase, growing up very fast and hence we must plan well the directions that we are going to take, building up a stronger identity.

Personally, I would like to see the following issues to be discussed:

  • Impactful Q1 & Q2 publications - these have been emphasized much by the university and also the ministry. In dealing with these, one should be very well aware of the differences in publication culture even within the specific communities of mathematical scientists. My own take on this is that one should publish in journals where one's own community normally publishes. In this way, one's work gets more relevant and more citations may take place. Again, one exercises caution on chasing citations so that self-citations or close colleagues' citations are not the ones we should be aiming for. Also, are we pursuing relevant fertile areas that the institute can build communities on.
  • INSPEM's role in MICEMS - this has so far being discussed mainly at individual level. We need to bring the discussion to the broader institute-wide discussion to build better and more coherent co-operation with our Italian counterparts. We need to build concrete programs, both research and post-graduate. We also need to discuss our reciprocating actions to the Italian contributions to MICEMS with longer-term views.
  • Building success stories - ones that can build up stronger reputation and visibility. This may sounds cosmetic but it is really a nontrivial matter. The works of mathematical scientists have often being long-term and relegated almost always to the background in a way that people in general hardly noticed our contributions. We need to tell/convince people why we need to be here.
  • Meeting challenges in the face of declining resources - whether in terms of research grants or other financially-related matters. We need people who can champion the cause of the institute among decision-makers, investors and other possible income-generating actions. In a way, this is very related to the previous point.
None of these are easy and we are very much dependent on the support of our members on how to move forward to a brighter future.

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