Thanks to Nassif Ghoussoub’s July 4, 2013 posting on his Piece of Mind blog where I found this information about a a possible Canada-Mexico mathematics initiative,
Oaxaca to join Banff as a hotbed for the mathematical sciences
The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is now accepting proposals for its 2015 program. BIRS will again be hosting a 48-week scientific program at its station in Banff. There is also a possibility (to be confirmed later) that BIRS will be running an additional 20-25 workshops at its developing new station in Oaxaca, Mexico. [emphasis mine]
The status and state of readiness of the new research station at Oaxaca is still awaiting final commitments from various private and public sponsors. We are aiming to have the facility open and ready to host an augmented BIRS program as soon as 2015. We shall keep the scientific community informed about this exciting potential to increase the BIRS opportunities.
Here’s a little background information about why BIRS wants to expand its offerings and why they hope to expand the programming to Mexico in particular. From Nassif Ghoussoub’s April 19, 2013 posting (Note: links have been removed),
Once again, I had to perform the unpleasant annual task of writing to more than 120 colleagues and their co-applicants all over the world to inform them that their proposals to run a research workshop at the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) in 2014 were not successful. Many of these declined proposals were excellent and some of the disappointed researchers were repeat applicants. The problem? 170 applications received in 2012 (more than double the number of the 2003 competition) for the available 48 weeks of programming at BIRS. The private sector has obvious answers to such increases in customers’ demand. But what do you do if your product is research capacity, your capital is scientific credibility, and your financier is the public sector?
Every year, BIRS hosts over 2000 researchers from 400 institutions in more than 60 countries who participate in its annual series of 48 weekly workshops, each hosting up to 42 researchers in disciplines in which mathematics, computer science and statistics are used in novel ways. ….
A unique aspect of BIRS is that it is a joint Canada-US-Mexico initiative, which is funded by Mexico’s National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT), Alberta Innovation, the US National Science Foundation (NSF), and Canada’s Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).
Another remarkable feature of the Station is that it is located on the site of the world-renowned Banff Centre in Alberta, which is already internationally recognized as a place of high culture with programs in music and sound, the written, visual and performing arts, leadership and management that draw in many hundreds of artists, students, and intellectual leaders from around the world.
It had been clear to me for a while now that we need to increase the opportunities offered at BIRS by expanding its capacity to no less than 75 workshops per year. In other words, we need an additional research facility, where BIRS can support 25-30 workshops in addition to the 48 programs that currently run in Banff every year.
That special confluence of the arts and mathematics at Banff is something the BIRS organizers want to maintain in any new facilities and it’s why Francisco Toledo’s CASA (El Centro de las Artes San Augustín) seems ideal for a new mathematics hosting space. From Nassif’s April 2013 posting (Note: Links have been removed),
CASA, which opened its doors on March 21, 2006, is committed to be a public space, where education, artistic creation and experimentation could thrive. It was founded by Francisco Toledo, a prominent Mexican painter and graphic designer, who purchased the property in 2000 in order to create the first eco-arts center in Latin America. CASA is funded through the National Center for the Arts, the State Government of Oaxaca, and private foundations including the Harp Helú Foundation.
“Today CASA is comprised of a set of spaces providing for artistic initiation and creation. It has spaces equipped for the production of digital graphics, traditional graphic and dyeing workshops and textile design, photographic developing and organic printing. Under the assumption that the interaction with people from different lands stimulates creativity, promotes tolerance and strengthens a community, CASA invites artists to perform residencies giving priority to projects of ecological and community care.”
Francisco Toledo is convinced that mathematical scientists from all over the world can/should be part of these interactions in order to help stimulate another level of creativity, right there in his beloved Oaxaca. Toledo has consequently offered to donate a parcel of land adjacent to CASA on which could be built a facility, where some of the BIRS programs can run. Recent meetings with the Director of CONACYT, the Governor of the State of Oaxaca, and the Harp Helú Foundation were extremely promising.
Here’s more about CASA from the website homepage,
Recently restored, the 1883 textile hacienda founded by Jose Zorrila Trapaga was converted into the most beautiful Centre for the Arts of San Agustin (CASA). This is an outstanding contribution led by Maestro Francisco Toledo, to open a cultural opportunity for all interested in the many art workshops the center offers. Also, it brings extraordinary temporary exhibitions for all to marvel at, musical concerts at the weekends and most recently the former Pochote Cinema Club has moved here where the public can come to see cultural films for free most afternoons and special presentations on weekends.
While I note there’s no mention of mathematics on the CASA homepage, it (CASA) is mentioned in the BIRS 2015 Scientific Programme Call for Proposals (in a BIRS blog June 27, 2013 posting),
The Banff International Research Station for Mathematical Innovation and Discovery (BIRS) is now accepting proposals for its 2015 program. BIRS will again be hosting a 48-week scientific program at its station in Banff. There is also a possibility (to be confirmed later) that BIRS will be running an additional 20-25 workshops at its developing new station in Oaxaca, Mexico.
The status and state of readiness of the new research station at Oaxaca is still awaiting final commitments from various private and public sponsors. We are aiming to have the facility open and ready to host an augmented BIRS program as soon as 2015. We shall keep the scientific community informed about this exciting potential to increase the BIRS opportunities. …
The Station at Banff (and eventually the one in Oaxaca) provides an environment for creative interaction and the exchange of ideas, knowledge, and methods within the mathematical, statistical, and computing sciences, and with related disciplines and industrial sectors. Each week, the station hosts either a full workshop (42 people for 5 days) or two half-workshops (each with 21 people for 5 days). As usual, BIRS provides full accommodation, board, and research facilities at no cost to the invited participants, in a setting conducive to research and collaboration.
Full information, guidelines, and online forms are available at the BIRS website: http://www.birs.ca
The deadline for 5-day Workshop and Summer School proposals is Friday September 27, 2013.
In addition BIRS will operate its Research in Teams and Focused Research Groups programs, which allow smaller groups of researchers to get together for several weeks of uninterrupted work at the station. September 27, 2013 is also the preferred date to apply for these programs. However, proposals for projects involving Research in Teams or Focused Research Groups can be submitted at any time — subject to availability — they must be received at least 4 months before their requested start date.
Proposal submissions should be made using the online submission form. Please use: https://www.birs.ca/proposals
Nassif Ghoussoub, Scientific Director,
The Banff International Research Station
You’ll note the blogger Nassif Ghoussoub is also the BIRS’ scientific director. He was recently reappointed to his position according to a June 18, 2013 posting on the BIRS blog,
Nassif Ghoussoub has been re-appointed to a five-year term as Scientific Director of the Banff International Research Station (BIRS) beginning July 1, 2013.
“Under Ghoussoub’s leadership BIRS has evolved to become one of the leading research institutions in the world,” said Doug Mitchell, Chair of the BIRS Board of Directors. “BIRS is currently looking for ways to further expand opportunities for the mathematical sciences and we are extremely fortunate that Dr. Ghoussoub has agreed to continue to lead us into this next phase.”
Dr. Ghoussoub is a Professor of Mathematics and a Distinguished University Scholar at the University of British Columbia. He has been a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada since 1993 and a fellow of the American Mathematical Society since 2012. For his research contributions he has received many awards including the Coxeter-James prize and the Jeffrey-Williams prize of the Canadian Mathematical Society.
Dr. Ghoussoub has been acknowledged worldwide for his many contributions to building Canadian and international research capacity and infrastructure, such as his role in the founding of the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences, the Mitacs network of centres of excellence and the Banff International Research Station. Among his most recent awards are the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal and the David Borwein Distinguished Career Award. He is a recipient of a Doctorat Honoris Causa from the Université Paris-Dauphine, and was recently invited to receive the degree of Doctor of Science from the University of Victoria.
Congratulations to Nassif! As for this initiative in Mexico, I wish you, Francisco Toledo, BIRS, and CASA all the best. This is a very exciting development.