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.

Virtual Study Groups:

  • 7th September - 8th September 2020 - Agrifood Data Study Group: Evaluating the UK’s resilience to supply chain shocks.

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.

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.