Participant Testimonials

Mar 20 - Mar 25, 2011

I had a great time at BIRS! I came away with at least one new paper with V. Vertesi and D.S. Vela-Vick, in which we prove that the Legendrian invariant defined using grid diagrams agrees with that defined using open books. I started a new project with C. Manolescu, in which we identify the contact invariant of a contact surgery in his combinatorial formulation of HF+. I also began a project with L. Watson which could lead to an understanding of Szabo's spectral sequence in terms of holomorphic polygon counts.

John Baldwin Mathematics, Princeton University

Thank you for your kind e-mail which perfectly illustrates why BIRS works so well : attention to detail, great organization and a genuine care for the work done by mathematicians during their stay. Last week's meeting was really excellent from so many perspectives. Some amazing talks with deep results, a few excellent talks by more junior mathematicians, a great variety of areas represented allowing (formally and informally) to have an overall vision of what is in fastest expansion, and many small groups working on projects until late at night. Every time we organize one of these, we are amazed at how well this works. With my co-organizers we will write to participants to know what results came out of last week and it will be a pleasure to write up our report during the summer. We are really grateful to BIRS as this was the 3rd edition of this conference around interactions between contact/symplectic/geometric topology.

Olivier Collin Mathématiques, Université du Quebec à Montréal

The workshop was very helpful for me since it allowed me to get up to date with the latest developments in my field, even with the internet it is still very helpful to hear experts talk about their latest research. I also used my time at BIRS to finish a paper with Stefano Vidussi. I am very grateful for the time at BIRS.

Stefan Friedl Mathematics, University of Cologne

As always, my time at BIRS was amazing. The talks were excellent, the participants engaged, and the organization impeccable. Almost without fail, a BIRS conference leads me to new avenues of research. This past week was no exception, as a chance breakfast conversation led to a new result and has opened up an exciting direction in my research and a new collaboration. In fact, the talk I gave last week was based on a theorem that was dreamed up at the conference 2 years ago. In addition to the theorem, that conference also led to a fruitful ongoing collaboration. The posters sprinkled around the Banff center aren't just propaganda - it truly is an inspiring place. I also wanted to thank you for accommodating my early arrival. This allowed me and a collaborator - Olga Plamenevskaya - to make serious progress on a project which, thanks to the support of BIRS, is nearly complete. I am extremely grateful to have access to such a special place.

Matthew Hedden Mathematics, Michigan State University

This conference was a great opportunity. As a graduate student, it is important to be exposed to the most current topics in research, especially what is not published. It was very helpful to hear about what people have been working on, both through lectures and speaking with people. This process introduced me to many new people and gave me perspective on how people are thinking about the field and its current state. I am hoping that this will help improve my job prospects when I apply for postdoctoral positions next year, as I was given an opportunity to give a talk, which exposed me to people who had either not interacted mathematically with me before or seen me give a talk. One of the most valuable aspects of this conference was that it got me inspired to work more on my research. In fact, a colleague that I was already collaborating with mentioned something to me at the conference and I was able to come up with some results on the plane ride home.

Tye Lidman UCLA

My participation did impact my current research. I had clarifying exchanges with colleagues regarding my work in progress and learnt about very interesting work in progress of other researchers, which stimulated my own research. Last but not least, I started a new collaboration during the workshop.

Paolo Lisca Professor
Dipartimento di Matematica , University of Pisa

During the BIRS workshop I started new research projects. I was able to talked to two experts on other related areas of research, which was quite useful, e-mail communication can only take you so far. Moreover, to know what other experts were working on was very informative and it put things into perspective. BIRS is an amazing place to do math. Thanks to all the staff.

Rafael Torres Simons Foundation postdoctoral fellow
Mathematical Institute, Oxford University

I had a great time at BIRS, most of the talks were quite closely related to my research area, and I benefited a lot from them. Apart from the talks, I managed to collaborate with two of the participants; David Shea Vela-Vick and John Baldwin, and proved a new Theroem that finishes a long-standaing project of mine about Legendrian invariants in Heegaard Floer homology. In different settings there were three invariants defined for Legendrian knots in Heegaard Floer homology. One is defined by Ozsvath, Szabo and Thurston for Legendrian knots in the standard contact structure in S³. The other is defined by Lisca-Ozsvath-Stipsicz and Szabo for arbitrary Legendrian knots in an arbitrary contact structure. Both of the above invariants are in knot Floer homology. The third one is the contact element in the sutured Floer homology for the complement of the Legendrian knot defined by Honda, Kazez and Matic. In my thesis I understood the connection between the two later ones. In BIRS we managed to prove that the first and the second are the same in the standard contact structure in S³. Thanks a lot for the inviting me to this wonderful event, I hope to be able to go there more.

Vera Vertesi Mathematics, MIT

I finally understood what all the talks on naturality in Heegard Floer homology were about - BIRS seems to stimulate more open, honest admission of gaps and mistakes in math. I did some crucial work with a collaborator on a joint paper - possible only because we were looking at the same piece of paper in the same room. I had fruitful discussions over lunch, dinner, and beers, with many potential collaborators - clarifying who had already done what work, and what would be potential projects.

Katrin Wehrheim Massachusetts Institute of Technology