Mathematical Sciences Strategic Advisory Team meeting September 2016

Note of the Strategic Advisory Team Meeting held in September 2016.

Hilton London Olympia

Summary of 29th September 2016 SAT meeting notes
Hilton London Olympia


  • Professor Ken Brown (Chair), University of Glasgow
  • Professor Alan Champneys, University of Bristol
  • Dr Ben Dias, Tesco
  • Professor Mark Girolami, University of Warwick
  • Professor Kevin Glazebrook, Lancaster University
  • Professor Arieh Iserles, University of Cambridge
  • Professor Anne Juel, The University of Manchester
  • Professor Paul A Milewski, University of Bath
  • Professor Beatrice Pelloni, Heriot-Watt University
  • Dr Richard Pinch, GCHQ
  • Professor Lasse Rempe-Gillen, University of Liverpool
  • Professor Ian Strachan, University of Glasgow


  • Dr Neil Chue Hong, University of Edinburgh

EPSRC Attendees:

  • Dr Philippa Hemmings, Theme Lead, Mathematical Sciences EPSRC
  • Dr Derek Craig, Portfolio Manager, Mathematical Sciences EPSRC
  • Dr Katharine Moore, Portfolio Manager, Mathematical Sciences EPSRC
  • Dr Hannah Pearson, Portfolio Manager, Mathematical Sciences EPSRC
  • Dr Michael Ward, Portfolio Manager, Mathematical Sciences EPSRC
  • Mrs Pat Patel, Delivery Support, Mathematical Sciences EPSRC
  • Dr Maggie Wilson, Lead for Building Leadership EPSRC (minute 5-7)
  • Mrs Jo Thompson, Senior Manager Communications Team EPSRC (minute 1-4)


  • Professor Graham Niblo, University of Southampton


The Mathematical Sciences SAT meeting took place at the Hilton London Olympia on the 29th of September. The main agenda items encompassed Balancing Capability, support for early career researchers and the people pipeline.

  1. Welcome and Apologies

    The chair welcomed all attendees to the meeting. Apologies had been received from Graham Niblo. In addition to the Mathematical Sciences team, Dr Maggie Wilson, lead for Building Leadership would attend after lunch and Jo Thompson, senior manager in the Communications team would be present for the morning discussion. Neil Chue Hong also joined the meeting as a representative from the e-infrastructure SAT.

  2. Notes from the last meeting

    The notes of the last meeting were agreed as an accurate record.

  3. Update on EPSRC issues

    • SAT refresh

      The new members of the Mathematical Sciences SAT will be notified shortly, with their first meeting being February 2017. This is a slight change to the cycle of SAT members' appointments where the terms were previously April-March.

      Action: EPSRC to check the appointment terms of SAT members and remind members.

    • Mathematical Sciences Infrastructure Review

      The SAT reiterated the statement from the Mathematical Sciences Infrastructure Review that the Isaac Newton Institute (INI) and the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) are seen as flagship infrastructure by the community and should be supported as such. The mechanism for funding these two centres in the next Delivery Plan, as set out in the paper, was not clear. The SAT emphasised that the two centres should be funded using a single process together. It was also discussed how the centres could be joint funded by other research councils and the infrastructure team at EPSRC.

    • Knowledge Exchange

      A call is currently open for expressions of interest to participate in the review of mathematics and knowledge exchange. The SAT suggested that the call be publicised more widely, using Head of Department mailing lists, research office contacts and Learned Societies.

      Action: Publicise the call as widely as possible.

    • GCRF

      A subgroup of SAT members was set up at the last SAT meeting to discuss the opportunities for the Mathematical Sciences within the GCRF calls. Although there has been some email contact since the last meeting, the SAT suggested that a teleconference would be more useful to discuss these issues.

      Action: EPSRC to organise teleconference with subgroup of SAT members.

    • DTP

      The discussion of DTP allocations in departments is currently on hold until spring 2017, when data on students supported through the DTP will be available for analysis. It was suggested that it could be interesting to compare University and departmental data of student project allocations.

    • Complexity Review

      A review day of Complexity Science is scheduled for early 2017. Michele Erat, senior manager in the mathematical sciences theme, will be organising this. The SAT was keen that representatives from all disciplines with an interest in Complexity Science to be involved.

      Action: EPSRC to email the SAT with details and ask for suggested attendees.

    • STAPLE

      A Statistics and Applied Probability Landscape Event was held on the 26th September. Hannah Pearson briefly communicated the key messages from the event. A report of the workshop will be published in due course.

    • First Grants

      The SAT reiterated their strong support for the First grant scheme and concerns over some of the suggested changes to the scheme. EPSRC agreed to forward the SAT's concerns to the Building Leadership team.

  4. Balancing Capability

    Philippa Hemmings presented an overview of the Balancing Capability process and reviewed where we are currently in the timeline. Preliminary research area trajectories, which emerged through discussion at the previous SAT meeting, were presented for as an initial starting point for the discussion, acknowledging that thinking had evolved since the last SAT meeting. Ken Brown led the SAT in discussion of each research area and its proposed action category, as described in each rationale. The SAT gave their final advice on research area trajectories for the Mathematical Sciences research areas, taking on board the need to scrutinise all areas equally and to ensure each research area was viewed in an EPSRC wide context and that appropriate linkages were described to the EPSRC strategic outcomes and ambitions.

    It was agreed that any further comments to be incorporated into the rationales, in particular specific ways in which the research areas could contribute towards the Ambitions should be communicated to portfolio managers by Wednesday the 5th of October.

    Action: SAT members to send comments on research area rationales to EPSRC by the 5th of October

  5. People Pipeline

    EPSRC are currently undertaking a project, as part of the Building Leadership strategy, to assess the current balance of post-doctoral assistants (PDRAs) and PhD students within each discipline. This project intends to understand the specific role each of these types of trained researchers occupies within their respective discipline and the contribution made in the evolution of academic research.

    Hannah Pearson presented an overview of the project and the planned future work of EPSRC, including a corresponding SAN work stream. The SAT discussed how the roles of PDRAs and PhD students varied in the mathematical sciences. EPSRC data on the current balance between PhD students and PDRAs was presented and commented upon by the SAT. The contribution of the SAT to discussion of these issues at the meeting was captured and fed back to the Building Leaders Team for their consideration.

  6. Future Agenda Items

    The following topics were suggested by the SAT as future agenda items:

    • First Grants/support for early career researchers
    • GCRF
    • DTP, CDTs and training in the mathematical sciences
    • Influencing EPSRC policy
    • The functioning of the SAT in the context of UKRI
  7. AOB

    Neil Chue Hong highlighted the Maths/Computer Science e-infrastructure call.

Date of Next Meeting

25 November 2016, Swindon