Virtual Study Groups

Virtual Study Groups

One potential way forward from the mathematical support and/or webinars is to tackle problems via a virtual study group. Study Groups with Industry provide a forum for industrial scientists to work alongside academic mathematicians on problems of direct industrial relevance. They are an internationally recognised method of technology and knowledge exchange between academic mathematicians and industry.

V-KEMS has explored the feasibility of this and trialled a few approaches during April 2020 - in particular, a pilot virtual study group took place from 20th-23rd April 2020.

These Virtual Study Groups are hosted by both ICMS and the Newton Gateway to Mathematics.

In September 2020, Professor Rebecca Hoyle spoke to the Isaac Newton Institute about V-KEMS Virtual Study Groups.

An operations manual for running a VSG 010620.pdf

An Operations Manual for Running a Virtual Study Group has been put together which highlights some key points to consider when planning such events. If you would like to know more or have any questions please contact Dawn Wasley or Matt Butchers.

12th - 14th October 2021 - Recovery from the Pandemic: Hospitality & LeisureVirtual Study Group

This three-day virtual study group brought mathematical scientists and other disciplines together to solve challenges faced by the hospitality and leisure sector as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK leisure industry as a whole has met some unprecedented challenges over the course of the pandemic, and will continue to do so as the nation recovers. We are interested in using mathematics as a tool to help solve the particular challenges hotels, restaurants and leisure facilities, such as cinemas, gyms and museums, are facing as a result of the pandemic.

Unlike in previous study groups where the main focus was on modelling the spread of the infection, the theme of this event was about recovery from the pandemic with more of a focus on dealing with the operational difficulties and economic implications which have arisen. This event brought mathematical scientists and other disciplines together to solve end user defined challenges with the aim of mitigating the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality and leisure sector.

13th - 15th July 2021 - Covid-19 Safety in Large Events - Virtual Study Group

Since April 2021, VKEMS has delivered a series of Virtual Study Groups considering minimising risk / impact of COVID-19 in a range of scenarios (including train travel, opening up higher education and the impact on cardiovascular waiting lists).

We have now been tasked by RAMP Continuity Network (a UKRI funded project) to undertake a series of Virtual Study Groups on their behalf.

The first Virtual Study Group had the theme of COVID Safety in Large Events. This was a three day event, starting on Tuesday 13th July that brought mathematical scientists and other disciplines together to solve end user defined challenges.

The study group covered the spectrum of large events from indoor to outdoor, ticketed to un-ticketed, dynamic to static. The event was developed by V-KEMS partners with delivery by ICMS. Since the event, participants have collaborated to develop a working paper. More information can also be seen in both this article and this article.

2nd - 4th February 2021 - Modelling Solutions to the Impact of COVID-19 on Cardiovascular Waiting Lists – Virtual Study Group

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for men in the UK and second most for women. During the first lockdown from March 2020, elective cardiac procedures and many outpatient consultations were postponed and a substantial number of appointments have not yet been rescheduled. In addition, those who were suffering from heart conditions did not present to their GP or hospital.

It would be helpful to form a predictive model of the outcome of different strategies for recovery of the backlog in cardiac procedures and outpatient consultations, noting that a number of competing elements are at play including incident cases, prevalent cases, delayed cases, abandonment from changes in disease and deaths, as well as the capacity and capability of NHS services to respond.

A podcast about the event is available and a working paper has since been published.

11th - 13th January 2021 - Reducing the Risk of Covid-19 Transmission on Trains.

Amid the Covid-19 outbreak, the rail industry is looking to develop methods that can quantify the risk of transmission on trains, for both passengers and staff. Interested researchers were invited to join the three day study group to explore how mathematical sciences could help solve the challenge.

This Study Group aimed to convene researchers, and industry and policy stakeholders to provide further insight into the challenge through a wide variety of mathematical approaches.

The Study Group considered three scales:

  • Scale 1: Modelling of a carriage: controls e.g. airflow, seating design, passenger allocation to seats

  • Scale 2: Modelling of a journey: static, dynamic, passenger movement, passengers getting on and off

  • Scale 3: Scheduling across the country, passenger allocation to trains; High times of rail usage (e.g. start of university term); Resilience of schedule based on outbreak.

  • A working paper has now been made available.

16th - 18th December 2020 - Virtual Industry Study Group - Modelling of Heterogeneous Systems.

5th - 6th October 2020 - Mathematical Modelling and COVID-19: How can modelling inform a response to the current COVID-19 resurgence?

This workshop brought together people working on modelling the COVID-19 epidemic in the UK to discuss how modelling has and continues to inform policy decision making around this epidemic. It showcased ongoing modelling efforts to evaluate different non-pharmaceutical interventions as well as potential vaccination strategies from the leading modelling groups in the UK, drawing on knowledge from published and in the process of publication work.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had many negative effects on UK society and the economy. In recent weeks we have seen supermarket shortages and reduced offerings. As the UK is not self-sufficient in food production (for example only 16% of fruit and 52% vegetables and salad are grown in the UK), disruption to the logistics infrastructure could have serious knock-on effects for the UK. The often-complex network and interaction of growers, manufacturers, retailers and freight organisations mean that the current crisis is putting a strain on each of these sectors and the infrastructure which support it.

The mathematical sciences have a role in providing descriptions of resource flows, and tools which can assess vulnerabilities and model possible mitigation strategies. An initial webinar on the role of mathematical sciences in the agri-food supply chain sector was held on the 28th April 2020. This study group will take place over two sessions. The first session (7th – 8th September) aimed to assess the resilience of the UK food networks.

This study group looked at how the mathematical sciences can provide support in a) forecasting demand for surplus food products over the coming months and b) incentivising relationships with producers to ensure FareShare is well supported by the food supply chain.

This three day virtual study group aimed to try to help unlock higher education in the UK following the lockdown. The challenge of opening universities back to closer to normal operation can be seen as a complex, multi-level problem where challenges exist on a building level, a campus level, and a community level. A briefing document was made available before the event and a working paper has subsequently been published which highlights the discussions and initial findings.

Nick Holliman, Professor of Visualization at Newcastle University has since produced some slides that highlight the discussions that took place and the models that were used during the study group.

  • 29th - 30th April 2020 - Guiding Principles for Unlocking the Workforce - What Can Mathematics Tell Us?

During this 2 day study group, mathematicians considered "principles" for how to modify the operation of an individual workplace in order to reduce viral transmission.

The meeting brought together online a group of over fifty participants, all normally based in the UK. Most were academic mathematical scientists, from a range of specialities. Academics from data science, economics, epidemiology, public health, and behavioural science also took part.

A working paper was subsequently published. The Benefits of Peer Transparency in Safe Workplace Operation Post Pandemic Lockdown was submitted in early July 2020.

Assessing Risk in the Retail Environment during the COVID-19 pandemic was published in Royal Society Open Science in May 2021.

2 industrial challenges were presented by Zenotech and Scott Bader and over 4 days, study group participants worked on potential solutions which were presented at lunchtime on the final day.