Early Career Mathematicians Forum

Early Career Mathematicians Forum

This SAMS division (established at the 2022 AGM) is headed by Prof. Loyiso Nongxa.

Early career mathematicians [1] are widely recognised as being potential creators of great science that can result in improving the quality of life of communities and societies. It is in the interests (and is the responsibility) of South African science, the university system and the South African Mathematical Society to determine how they can play a facilitative role in ensuring the  success of our next generation of mathematicians, how they can best collaborate with other institutions and organisations to support early career mathematicians, to what extent the current research environment, especially in some of universities with small mathematical sciences departments, motivates them to continue pursuing research careers in mathematics and what they should be doing to improve the prospects of their career paths.  Early career mathematicians are the bedrock of and essential for the future health and vibrancy of mathematics in South Africa. An investment in the future success of early career mathematicians in achieving their career goals helps secure the future of the mathematical sciences in South Africa.

“…. there may be little consensus, even less research on the strategies to best support early career researchers on the challenges facing early career scientists around the world, especially in developing countries” [Global Young Academy].   

OBJECTIVES: The main objective of the Early Career Mathematicians Forum is to provide support for early career mathematicians to build successful careers. The Forum is a platform to provide developmental opportunities for early career mathematicians to acquire, develop and strengthen the requisite skills that will help them advance their professional careers; and to create opportunities for them to be members of collaborative networks both locally and globally. This will include, and not restricted to:

  • being responsive to the needs and interests of early career mathematicians, always ensuring that these inform the activities of the Forum and the opportunities created for them to realise their professional ambitions.
  • promoting the intellectual and academic development of early career mathematicians through specially designed interventions to address some of the challenges that may be unique to young academics embarking on a research career in mathematics.
  • leveraging the global mathematical sciences research infrastructure [2] to provide developmental opportunities for early career mathematicians in South Africa.
  • exploring creative and innovative ways to expose them to frontier and contemporary developments in mathematics.
  • immersing them in intellectually stimulating research environments with opportunities to interact with leading research mathematicians. 
  • developing networks to nurture and facilitate greater engagement between and across early career mathematicians and the wider mathematical sciences research community, locally, regionally, and internationally.

MEMBERSHIP: The Forum is open to all those who are in the early stages of their careers and have chosen careers in high level mathematics which either involves conducting research at the frontiers of the discipline, disseminating knowledge in mathematics through their teaching at advanced levels or are working in sectors which depend on applications of cutting-edge developments in the mathematical sciences. This would include, but not restricted to

  • all PhD graduates who are less than 40 years old.
  • all PhD graduates who completed their degrees within the previous 7 years.
  • all postdoctoral fellows within the National System of Innovation;
  • all postgraduate students, including academics at universities, who are in their final year of PhD and are transitioning to the postdoctoral phase.

GOVERNANCE: The Early Career Mathematicians Forum is a partnership project between the South African Mathematical Society and the National Graduate Academy for Mathematical and Sciences. The December 2022 Annual General Meeting of the South African Mathematical Society adopted a proposal to establish a division for Early Career Mathematicians. The National Graduate Academy for Mathematical and Statistical Sciences runs a Pathways to a Successful Academic Career Programme aimed at early career academics in the mathematical sciences.

[1] The term will be used to describe those that have chosen careers in high level mathematics within the National System of Innovation (universities, private and public sectors and the non-governmental sector) who have not yet reached the professorial ranks and are (a) PhD holders who are at most 40 years old; and/or (b) completed their PhDs within the last 7 years; and/or (c) are in their final year of PhD studies and transitioning from PhD to the postdoctoral phase.

[2] We use the term to refer to research institutes, research groups and networks, mathematics departments with large concentrations of researchers at different levels (PhD students, postdoctoral fellows, visiting researchers, etc.), research schools, etc.