March 20, 2024

Recap of Day 3 CoE-MaSS Celebration

Day three of the Siyakhula Festival was a landmark celebration for the Centre of Excellence in Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (CoE-MaSS) as it commemorated its 10th anniversary. The day was packed with insightful sessions that not only reflected on CoE-MaSS’s decade-long journey but also looked forward to the future of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences (MaSS) in South Africa and beyond.

The day’s proceedings began with keynote talks from Bruce Watson, Acting Director of CoE-MaSS (University of the Witwatersrand), and Kerstin Jordaan, Steering Committee Chairperson (University of South Africa). They provided an overview of CoE-MaSS and contemporary MaSS issues, delving into the Centre’s impact through publications, star researchers, and the push for internationalisation and interdisciplinarity. The session also tackled contemporary issues in MaSS across Africa and South Africa, from basic mathematics education to education research, concluding with a vibrant Q&A session.

The day continued with an interactive session titled “A Legacy of Funding: Postgraduate and Postdoctoral Journeys 2014-2024.” Facilitated by Lethu Kapueja, this session featured narratives from Walt van Amstel, Cerene Rathilal, Shannon Holcroft, Heather Banda, and Tsinjo Rakotonarivo, exploring their journeys through MaSS, enabled by CoE-MaSS and other influences. This session underscored the achievements and highlights funded research enables and how it helps popularise MaSS through various platforms.

A collaborative session led by a distinguished group of MaSS researchers and experts, including Andriette Bekker, Delia North, Jacek Banasiak, Johan Ferreira, and others, tackled the contemporary MaSS landscape in South Africa. Discussions ranged from balancing research commitments to mental health support for researchers, international collaboration challenges, and the representation of women and historically disadvantaged institutions in MaSS.

The day culminated in an interactive engagement session, “Breaking MaSS Boundaries: Impact, Events, Science Communication, and Community Engagement.” This session brought together Andriette Bekker, Cerene Rathilal, Diane Dowejko, Heather Banda, Lethu Kapueja, Nombuso Zondo, Riana Roux, and Walt van Amstel to discuss the role and types of impact and outputs in MaSS. The session emphasised changing the research framework and how mathematicians and statisticians can effectively communicate within and beyond the MaSS community.

Day three of the Siyakhula Festival highlighted the vibrant community of mathematicians and statisticians at CoE-MaSS and their dedication to advancing the field. Celebrating the 10th anniversary of CoE-MaSS, the sessions underscored the importance of continued support for MaSS education and research, fostering a collaborative and innovative environment for the growth of the field in Africa.

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