Friday, December 23, 2016

At 54

Yesterday was my 54th birthday and we spent most of the time in a private hospital to do some tests. My legs showed some swelling for some time and after a week it has shown no improvements (despite medications). See here for possible causes. My other half mentioned it is best for me to do a thorough check-up to find out what's causing and prolonging it and so we did. The results thus far are inconclusive and I will return to the hospital for another check-up next Thursday. Actually the whole family celebrated my birthday the night before. My eldest simply came back (during study week) just for that while my second eldest came back earlier, stayed back and to return to the campus today. I appreciated what they did. Here is a pic, perhaps showing myself rather unwell.

I would like to backtrack further to the few days before my birthday. Earlier in the week, I was invited to go along with my colleague to a meeting on possible formation of a hub on Malaysian Industrial Mathematics & Statistics that would act as a platform for industry and mathematical scientists to connect. The initiative is headed by UTM-CIAM who has been active organising the Mathematics in Industry Study Group of which the institute had once collaborated. The initiative perhaps will propel their efforts at a national level and may complement what other bodies like Malaysia Academy Industry Network (MyAIN) and CREST (Catalyst for Malaysia's E&E) are doing.

Within the same week, UPM is also co-hosting Science & Technology Exchange Program (STEP) in Islamic Countries (see here) with Mustafa Prize. We were told that it was not easy to bring the event to the university. Frankly, I was not aware of the prize before this but I knew about King Faisal International Prize whose Laureates include Atiyah, Wiles, Terence Tao, C.N. Yang, Wilczek and Zeilinger (see here). However, Mustafa Prize is only about a year old, seems to be legally established in 2015 and is based in Iran. The first two laureates are Prof. Jackie Ying (NTU, Singapore) and Prof. Omar Yaghi (Univ. of California, Berkeley and Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute) (see here). I attended Prof. Yaghi's talk on Promoting Creative Academic Environment. Some of the slides can be seen below.

On Wednesday we had an interview with Malaysia Progress, a publication under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, promoting Malaysia to foreign investors. Just the day before, we had some discussions to prepare for this interview. I drafted a document to help facilitate the interview. I should explain why I write as it is. I believe in not overselling ideas. To put in figure guesstimates on how we have contributed to the country may invite criticisms and skepticisms. I rather speak facts. On the major achievements, I highlighted the fact that our vision is to have the institute to be of international repute and hence my answers were respect to the vision (EMS recognition for the ERCE label, MICEMS with Italy and ARWU 2015 ranking for the subject of mathematics). There are of course more detailed goals that are answered in the latter points. I try not to highlight too much one group over another and written in a way that almost every group gets a mention (and no mention of persons at all). Apart from one place, I underplay my own group's contribution. When written this way, it will describe the institute as a whole. I hope when there are new leaders in the institute later, I hope they consider this fairness in highlighting the institute. It is unhealthy to highlight one group over another and I have seen friction caused by such attitude. Another point is that recognition is given by others; our own self-glorification does not carry much weight. However this is my draft, perhaps not agreeable by others; and as such anyone is free to add or remove any parts of it. Here is a picture of us during the interview with En. Russlan Ismail.

I wish the institute its best in getting the deserved attention.

Finally at 54, it is my wish to be less in the limelight and be left 'uncluttered' to pursue my scientific interests and also prepare for the hereafter.

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