Science magazine spotlights extracurricular activities in science–and SIAM student chapters

October 6, 2010

In a world where science and math are moving beyond basic research and academics, it is becoming increasingly important for students and those in their early careers to improve and expand their repertoire of skills, knowledge and activities in order to remain professionally competent and take advantage of the various career paths available to them.

That is the focus of this month's Career Advice column in Science Magazine.

While science and math students worldwide are taking the initiative to implement new projects from scratch, such as launching their very own publications, or forming scientific committees, students can also tap into opportunities provided by student organizations and scientific societies, which have already-established platforms for extracurricular activities.

SIAM's student chapters are one such arena, and have deservedly been showcased in the article as a stage that students can take advantage of, thanks to recognition by the Oxford SIAM chapter.

Hermes Gadêlha, a final-year Ph.D. student in mathematical biology and President of the University of Oxford SIAM Chapter acknowledges the benefits of having a student organization already set up, which can provide the infrastructure and backing necessary to organize and implement student initiatives and programs.

In addition to the knowledge and experience that participants no doubt gain from such activities, student organizers are exposed to a whole new world of challenges and opportunities. Raising funds for events allows interaction with academic and industrial organizations and hones and develops skills that students would probably never be exposed to by simply performing research and fulfilling graduate requirements. Gadêlha gives the example of a recent fundraising effort, which earned the Oxford Chapter £4,500 for its activities.

Such extracurricular engagements, however, also take time to plan and implement, which on the face of it, may seem to be better spent on exam preparations and research, but the experience you gain in the process can more than make up for it, according to Gadêlha. Be it developing skills to ace an interview or learning to work in a team, the experience can only help in the long run insist Gadêlha and the few other student volunteers featured in the article. In addition to personal and professional development, there are, of course, the activities themselves, which benefit students in a wide variety of ways.

The Oxford Chapter provides extensive resources for its members, such as an induction day to welcome new students, opportunities for professional networking, industrial visits to allow job seekers a look at different career options, and conferences, seminars and lectures throughout the year.

SIAM student chapters all over the world are involved in various kinds of activities to promote applied math, increase mathematics interest in the general community, offer students forums for development, and to help them in their career paths. Chapters organize math competitions, conduct outreach to high schools and colleges, invite leading mathematicians to give talks and lectures, and conduct symposiums and conferences among other things, with the end goal of promoting applied mathematics.

You can check out some of the events sponsored by SIAM chapters in the 2009-2010 academic year here.

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