Participant Testimonials

Apr 15 - Apr 20, 2012

One thing that the workshop did was mix geometers and topologists. This was good for me (as a topologist) in two specific ways. I met my collaborator Fuquan Fang (a geometer from China). We put the finishing touches on a project and started a new one. I met and had interesting discussions with Claude LeBrun who suggested the problem of determining which 7-manifolds admit Einstein metrics. I have an ex-student (Diarmuid Crowley) who is the world's expert on the topology of 7-manifolds, and I will talk to him about this interesting mix of geometry and topology.

Jim Davis Mathematics, Indiana University

We had a great week at BIRS. Our report will fill you in on some of the new developments both from the talks (most are available on video), and from the lively discussions among the participants. Several of my own projects got a boost from talking to people at the meeting, so that was a bonus. This was the first time I experienced the new TCPL facility for the lectures. It is perfect, and the video recording produces a surprisingly good quality image and sound. As usual, the local organization by Brenda Williams and Brent Kearney was excellent.

Ian Hambleton Mathematics & Statistics, McMaster University

The BIRS workshop "Geometric structures on manifolds" was wonderful. As with all of my BIRS experiences, I came away from this workshop invigorated and with new mathematical perspective. This workshop, in particular, was great in that it introduced me both to people and to ideas with which I had little prior exposure. I was impressed by the speakers and the diversity of mathematics presented at the workshop. People made a real effort to communicate with mathematicians outside of their normal circles; a rare phenomenon at many conferences that I attend. As usual the organization, the food, the technology, and the accommodations were outstanding. BIRS is a truly special place.

Matthew Hedden Assistant Professor
Mathematics, Michigan State University

First thank you and the organizing committee for the invitation to the BIRS workshop. I enjoyed it a great deal both mathematically and environmentally. For me this is a extremely smooth conference from arriving at Calgary and leaving Calgary. The instruction is clear, on-time and short enough (so that we have patience to read it completely), this takes care of my arriving at and leaving my BIRS room. Since this is my first time to Banff, I like the format that all our food are taken care of so that we do not waste our time on this front. Another thing I like is that the noon time break is long so that we have time to mingle together. Mathematically I extremely like the diversity of the topics of talks and the quality of the talks, though I am a geometric analyst, I benefit from quite a few talks, in particular the talk by LeBrun on the classification of Einstein 4-manifolds with complex structure, the talk by Hillman on the homotopy type of geometric 4-manifolds, and the talk by Biquard on desingularizing Einstein orbifolds. I enjoyed the talk by Baldridge a lot. Out of talks I asked Bryant some questions about the deformation of G_2 manifolds. He also explained to a group of people about his on-going study of Bonnett theorem in affine spaces, I liked it. I also talked quite a bit of math with Fang. To me this is a very fruitful conference, I can not ask more from it. Here I want to say again, thank you and the other organizer and BIRS.

Peng Lu Mathematics, University of Oregon

As a participant, it was nice to have the talks restricted to 45 minutes. With that length, it's easier to pay attention. The facilities, scenery, and food were all magnificent. In terms of professional development and networking, I feel that my presence at these sorts of conferences is crucial. I already have a postdoc, but I will be moving overseas, so I need to form my North American connections now. The talks were very nice, and it was helpful to see several talks in the same subject area, namely Spin7/G2 manifolds. Most valuable were my interactions with other participants. I met several colleagues and big-name researchers, and caught up with several friends. I had many conversations which were very helpful. Foremost, I am currently working on a project about Chern-Simons theory, which was informed by my discussions with Paul Kirk and Matt Hedden. Also, I had a nice discussion with Robert Bryant regarding an identity I had discovered. The conference was very productive, smooth and enjoyable. I hope to return soon to BIRS!

Ben Mares Postdoctoral Fellow
Mathematics & Statistics, McMaster University

The workshop was a great place to meet people working in an area somewhat different from mine, but still related. I also had an opportunity to work with a colleague on a joint project that was conceived at another BIRS meeting last year.

Gordana Matic Mathematics, University of Georgia