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A praise for IPAM

The Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM) is an organization that aims to provide connections between scientists and mathematicians, enhancing the possibilities for collaborations and general interactions. It is located on the campus of the University California Los Angeles (UCLA).
IPAM provides several types of programs, the typical semester programs span three months and include weeks for tutorials and workshops as well as lecture free time to interact with other participants as one sees fit.

In Spring 2004, IPAM held a proteomics program which I participated in.
The program included four weeks of conferences (see the program), and IPAM managed to attract many top scientists in the field of proteomics research - most of the them were even outstanding speakers. There were other activities such as longer workshops and tutorial and ample time that we devoted to work groups. The collaboration has lead to at least one successful publication on my side.
Currently, I am at the re-union workshop of the progam, held in conference center of the UCLA in Lake Arrowhead, up in the San Gabriel mountains outside LA. The re-unions are an integral part of the semester programs and usually overlap with other semester programs, so there is some exchange between the different workshops.

When I first got an email announcing the workshop I dumped it as I though that it would be difficult to manage all the constraints, and if it wasn't for some personal contacts who encouraged me to go, I would have never taken the leap of faith. It turned out that participating in the workshop was a great opportunity. Attending a workshop for three months obviously requires a bit of self-motivation. After all, there is no control by the organizers and you could (in principle) take the opportunity to explore Los Angeles for three months and not get anything done but as there are office desks and work stations for every participant, there is little that keeps you from working as productive as back home.

If you are a postdoc or grad student wishing, the IPAM workshops are a great opportunity, in particular, if you are coming from the biology side and want to strengthen your math, which was my prime motivation to join the meeting. The participants of the other workshop however seem to be mostly established mathematicians, including several professors. Over lunch, I was asked whether all proteomics researchers were as young as our group, which are mostly postdocs.

The next course that might be of interest to the regular readers of the these pages might be the Cells and Materials course starting in March 2006.

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