Saturday, August 1, 2009

Thank you letters, the World Science Festival, and the Association for Women in Mathematics Newsletter

Summer is a time when academics and researchers continue to challenge themselves with new and novel professional experiences. These they can then bring back to their classrooms, come the Fall.

One of the high points of my summer was taking part in the Traffic panel at the World Science Festival in NYC and being among invited participants that included Nobel prize winners, celebrated authors and scientists, and, yes, even movie stars. Such a festival and associated experiences elevate research and discovery and emphasize the importance of sharing and explaining science to general audiences in a fun and exciting manner. Of course, if one loves one's work and my research area of networks, in general, and transportation, in particular, is one of the most fascinating subjects and thrilling to communicate about, taking part in the World Science Festival (WSF) is a true celebration of science with lasting memories that continue to resonate. In fact, even last week, while teaching at Harvard University, the festival came up in discussions!

Yesterday, I received a thank you letter (and photos) from the organizers of the WSF, Professor Brian Greene of Columbia University, and Tracy Day, an award-winning journalist. Such attention to detail speaks volumes about their professionalism. Thank you letters matter, as I tell my students, and I try to practice this very important courtesy. In fact, my offices and desks are covered with thank you letters and letters of appreciation that I have received over the years, which serve as inspiration and acknowledgment of extended efforts.

The July-August issue of the Association for Women in Mathematics Newsletter has a feature article on my participation in the WSF. Thank you to the editor for this great coverage and for reinforcing the memories of those magical days in New York City in June!