Algebraic Combinatorixx 2 (17w5012)

Arriving in Banff, Alberta Sunday, May 14 and departing Friday May 19, 2017


(University of British Columbia)

(Dartmouth College)

(Armstrong State University)

(Earlham College)


Algebraic combinatorics is a large branch of mathematics with strong ties to many areas including representation theory, computing, knot theory, mathematical physics, symmetric functions, and invariant theory. The goal of this workshop is to increase the participation and community of women in algebraic combinatorics and in related research areas.

Our inspiration for this workshop harks back to the first Algebraic Combinatorixx workshop held in May 2011. This workshop had many more applicants than slots, and it generated much energy. Thanks to collaborations developed at this workshop, a special session on Algebraic Combinatorics and Representation Theory was organized at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in 2013. The Association for Women in Mathematics will hold a workshop at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in 2016 with a focus on Algebraic Combinatorics. Despite the progress made by women in these areas, conferences still systematically have primarily male speakers, as illustrated by speaker lists such as the one for the upcoming Algebraic Combinatorics and Applications conference in Michigan. Thus it is necessary to capitalize on the momentum gained now, in order to continue to help the community of women researchers in algebraic combinatorics become more established.

It is anticipated that the participant list will be diverse along two distinct dimensions. Approximately a third of the women faculty will be early career (including pre-tenure, postdoctoral, and graduate students), a third mid-career (such as the associate professor) and a third well-established senior faculty. The second dimension, often overlooked, is to have a mixture of faculty at teaching intensive institutions as well as research intensive institutions. In fact, half of the organizers come from each type of university. The discipline of algebraic combinatorics lends itself well to this goal since algebraic combinatorics is an area where much undergraduate research emerges as well as the research of Field’s medalists such as Tao and Okounkov.

We hope to have significant mentoring across these diverse lines. However, instead of having an established set of “mentors” and “mentees”, we would like to help faculty create co-mentoring partnerships. Co-mentoring has recently started to appear in the literature as an important structure for career success. To establish strong co-mentoring partnerships, there will be components encouraging interaction at meals, panels on issues of particular importance to women in mathematics, and intentional discussion structured to highlight the strengths of the various participants.

We also envision a collaborative research experience which includes poster sessions for emerging work, brief talks by early career faculty on specific research, survey lectures from seasoned researchers, and break out sessions with leaders that have volunteered to guide the research experience. We anticipate spending about half of the time working in groups that are formed around common research interests. Much was learned from the successful implementation of Algebraic Combinatorixx in 2011 that would allow us to build on its strengths to increase the yield from the collaborative research experience including using clear guidelines for leadership, starting with small teams, and providing multiple points of entry that allow for productive participation from both teaching and research faculty. At the end of the workshop, these teams will give overviews of their progress and submit a written summary.

As outcomes at the end of the experience, we anticipate new research and teaching collaborations, new project ideas being generated for faculty at a wide variety of institutions, progress to be made on current open problems, and a strengthening of the algebraic combinatorics community. We hope that there will be an increase in talks given by women in this area, publications based on the collaborative work, and continued meetings generated by the participants in the future. Moreover, simply holding this workshop will increase the visibility and connectivity of women in mathematics.

We see BIRS as the ideal setting for this workshop because its mix of research and social facilities, isolated location, and dining facilities will allow for networking, mathematical conversations and mentoring to occur more naturally and deeply than it would otherwise.