26 Nov 2020


This issue is entirely devoted to the ongoing pandemic and its consequences, from the point of view of mathematicians.

Starting with research on COVID-19, we interviewed four researchers who apply mathematics to the analysis and mitigation of the pandemic and its consequences: Ilaria Dorigatti (Imperial College London), Gabriela Gomes (Strathclyde), Michelle Kendall (Warwick) and Ganna Rozhnova (UMC Utrecht).

Moreover, Iulia Bulai (Basilicata) reflected on mathematical models and their power when applied to crises such as the current pandemic, while Laura Tedeschini Lalli (Roma Tre) focuses on a completely different and equally fascinating topic: the ‘silence’ caused by the lockdown, which made it possible to listen to and analyse sounds normally hidden, in particular those of the Fontana di Trevi in Rome.

The impact of COVID-19 was tragic for many and from many points of view. The pandemic claimed more than a million victims and triggered an economic crisis that impoverished and generally put many people in difficulty. It had less tragic but still serious effects on academic work.

EWM set up a working group, coordinated by Maria G Westdickenberg (RWTH Aachen) on the impact of the crisis triggered by the pandemic on the work (and life) of women mathematicians, especially junior researchers: the open letter has been so-far signed by more than 870 researchers and endorsed by 11 organisations and committees. Mia Jukic (Leiden), Rebecca Waldecker (Martin-Luther Halle-Wittenberg), and Maria present the results of the group’s work.

In these times of crisis, when it is more difficult for many people to do research work and publish, a transition in publishing modes is underway that will have a major impact on our work:  with open access, in some of its declinations, publishing in prestigious journals may end up being very difficult to those who do not have substantial research funds. Susanna Terracini (Torino) has analysed for us the characteristics of open access in its various forms.

Another pervasive aspect of the times we are living in are online seminars and conferences: we have, temporarily, lost the possibility to meet to talk about our work while we have ‘gained’ the opportunity to access a huge offer of seminars from all over the world. The organisers of the One World seminar series and the Stochastic programming society virtual seminar series tell us about their initiatives.

And finally, we asked for personal testimonies of life in the past months.

We received two impressions from Elisabetta Strickland (Rome Tor Vergata) and Elena Resmerita (Alpen-Adria Universitaet Klagenfurt), two ‘snapshots’ of their life in lockdown. Marie Françoise Ouedraogo (Ouagadougou), Sibusiso Moyo (Durban University of Technology), Fadipe-Joseph Olubunmi (Ilorin), Entisar Alrasheed (Bahri), and Selma Negzaoui (Monastir) from the African Women in Mathematics Association, write about their experiences. And Sylvie Paycha (Potsdam) shares with us her thoughts about how the line between private and public life is getting even more blurred. 

We half-believed, when we planned this issue in summer, that life would have returned to normal in Autumn, when this Newsletter was due. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

This issue is also a way to connect with each other in this complex time. 

Anna Maria Cherubini

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