Category Archives: Op-eds

Beyond “the homely West-side heritage home” that shelters UBC-Mathematics

I have just received the annual newsletter of the mathematics department (my department) at the University of British Columbia. And I learned a few new facts that are worth sharing. Thanks to an interesting interview with Andrew Weaver, the very … Continue reading

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A mathematician at the Global Business Forum

I am just back from the Global Business Forum in Banff. Every year, three remarkable people expend Herculean efforts to oversee the organization of this high-profile gathering. The Forum is sometimes referred to as the “Davos” of the energy industry. It … Continue reading

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Lousy reporting targets Canada’s higher education

“An early contender for the worst article of the back-to-school period,” was Alex Usher’s reaction upon coming across an article by Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun titled “The pros and cons of foreign students.” Melonie Fullick’s reaction was closer to mine. … Continue reading

Posted in Op-eds, R&D Policy, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Canadian Common CV: NSERC vs. Linkedin

“I hope you write a blog post about the shameful time NSERC is wasting for all of us dealing with the Canadian Common CV website!!!” My friend was referring to NSERC’s new “Portal” to be used to “manage application and peer review … Continue reading

Posted in Honouring friends, Op-eds | 26 Comments

Your library $$ at work: Elsevier offering $60 to editors for each paper they process

A little over a year ago, a petition for boycotting everything Elsevier was initiated following a blog post by Tim Gowers about his position on the issue. I vaguely remember talking about it with my UBC colleague, Greg Martin, who … Continue reading

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The not-so-secret war between the universities and community colleges

The folks of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) may have entered the budget lockup in a sunny mood, but they can’t be now, in spite of their rosy post-budget announcements. The colleges on the other hand … Continue reading

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NSERC: Time to press the “reset” button on its relations with government and the scientific community

There is no doubt that Suzanne Fortier bears a big responsibility for the unprecedented changes to the landscape of government support to university sponsored research and innovation. But it is hard to believe that she is solely responsible for this major … Continue reading

Posted in Op-eds, R&D Policy | 2 Comments

NSERC: Time to press the “reset” button on the mandate

Cathleen Crudden, President of the Canadian Society for Chemistry (CSC) has already hinted at it in her blog post on the occasion of Suzanne Fortier’s exit from NSERC. “Choosing her successor will be a critical task. With academic and industrial researchers calling for more funding … Continue reading

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Suzanne Fortier’s last salvo

You all heard the news by now, and I got more than my share of phone calls, emails and tweets informing me about it. Suzanne Fortier is to become the 17th Principal and Vice-Chancellor (President) of McGill University, effective early September, … Continue reading

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It takes more than talent and hard work to win academic awards

Upon seeing the announcement by NSERC of its “Top Researchers,” I couldn’t help myself from tweeting, “UBC a no-show! Get off your comfortable arse and start nominating your colleagues.” I was surprised by how many non-UBCers retweeted my scream. I then remembered a … Continue reading

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“Mathematics is alive and well, but living under different names”

That was the assessment of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) back in 1996. “This comment is still apropos,” they wrote in their latest report of 2012. “Although the mathematical sciences are pervasive, they are often invoked without an explicit awareness … Continue reading

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Why do I have the best job in the world

Just imagine if you receive a Valentine’s card every day of every week of every one of the last 10 years. OK! not the loving and lusting kind, but the feel good and appreciative type. “Dear BIRS Director, The attached paper, `Byzantine … Continue reading

Posted in Banff International Research Station, Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to salute the “Mathematics of Planet Earth Initiative”

Marc Garneau, our astronaut MP, who saw from outer space how beautiful, fragile and precious our planet was, didn’t do it. Ted Hsu, our Physicist MP, who witnessed its launch last week-end in Montreal, didn’t talk about it. Kennedy Stewart, Official … Continue reading

Posted in Banff International Research Station, Op-eds | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Embedded” in Ottawa

I am getting to understand the risks (and rewards) of “embedded journalism.”  Less than 24 hours into my trip to Ottawa, I started to feel uncharacteristically mollified, dangerously neutralized, and ridiculously guilty. Ever since I met with Gary Goodyear, Minister … Continue reading

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Canada’s young scholars to contend with NSERC’s new dirigisme

NSERC has finally responded to the multiple articles, blogs and editorials criticizing the declining success rate in its postdoctoral fellowship program. It is unfortunate that they chose to do so through a media outlet that is sitting behind a pay … Continue reading

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“You hit the jackpot!”

That’s what I am told lately, over and over again. That the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) has hit the jackpot, because the man who has just accepted to chair its Board of Directors is no ordinary man. To have … Continue reading

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Quite unusual for an Ottawa Monday morning dump

As always, politicians were crowding the Monday morning issue of the Hill Times newspaper. But today’s was different from any other day. No less than four politicians were either making “major” statements about federal plans for funding R&D, or taking … Continue reading

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R&D front: Signs that government may be starting to get it

And no, I am not sending out a public bouquet to government à la Naylor-Toope. I am talking about a government that is starting to realize that it’s more important to tune into the dreams and aspirations of Canada’s research community than to … Continue reading

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Canada’s Mathematical “Dream Team”

Back on July 2nd, I received a report that four members of Canada’s International Math Olympiad team were stuck for more than an hour in the elevator, while training at the Banff International Research Station. Well, it doesn’t look like this time … Continue reading

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Obsession

“His character is full of flaws, flittering from one obsessive behaviour to another, and he does this effortlessly.”  Mathematics is back with a vengeance, taking up all of my mental space. The same obsessive behaviour that got me to write … Continue reading

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