In August 2018, BMS faculty member and HU professor of mathematics, Dirk Becherer, and BMS Phase I student, Martha Nansubuga, visited the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Ghana. Dirk was invited to give a three-day seminar on "Stochastic Control for Markets with Finite Liquidity" and Martha was one of the participants. Of the approximately 45 master level students who attended the seminar series, 12 were women, and in addition to the new cohort of AIMS students, several MPhil and PhD students and research visitors from the AIMS Research Centre also took part.
After the seminar series had ended, Martha scheduled a meeting with the AIMS students a few days later in order to give a one-hour presentation about the BMS. She first described the structure of Phase I and Phase II, then talked about the math landscape in Berlin, and followed that with information about the BMS study program, including soft-skills seminars, What is...? seminars and BMS Friday lectures. She emphasized how important the latter two events are for coming into contact with other fields of mathematics and the people active in them. Martha then added a personal touch by telling the students about her life as part of the BMS family, the various social activities organized by the student representatives, as well as the BMS Buddy Program, which for Martha has been a great success as her buddy is still happy to offer help whenever she needs it.
She also told the AIMS students about three members of their alumni who found their current success by doing a PhD in stochastics via the BMS. They are Victor Fenou Nzengang, BMS Alumnus and now a postdoc at the University of Freiburg; Klébert Kentia Tonleu, BMS Alumnus and now a senior consultant in Frankfurt; and Ludovic Tangpi, a former BMS Phase II student, who is now an assistant professor at Princeton University. She also took the opportunity to mention that one can experience the BMS by applying to a BMS Summer School too, which a friend of hers from AIMS South Africa did. Her application was successful and she came to Berlin for the 2017 BMS Summer School in "Probabilistic and Statistical Methods for Networks". Martha's presentation included a long and lively discussion, and at the end she handed out informational material and promotional items from the BMS.
Martha combined her activities for the BMS with a four-week research stay working with Dr. Olivier Menoukeu Pamen, the German Research Chair at the AIMS Ghana Research Centre. She studied and discussed deterministic and stochastic maximum principle problems with Dr. Pamen and his research students, attended the SAFIM workshop in Accra, and took part in other scientific activities with the AIMS students. Martha stayed on the AIMS Ghana campus in Biriwa, and lived and dined with the students, staff and lecturers at the institute, who took every chance to ask her questions about the BMS and life in Berlin. In their free time, her hosts took her on trips to the beach, into town for dinner and to the Kwame Nkrumah Mausoleum in Accra. Martha enjoyed her experience at AIMS and was happy to be able to share her knowledge with its ambitious and talented students. Her own personal piece of advice for them with regards to studying mathematics was to strive to "understand simple things deeply".
Dirk and Martha's activities at AIMS Ghana were made possible through the "Berlin-AIMS Network in Stochastic Analysis", whose goal it is to foster scientific exchange between mathematicians in Berlin and Ghana. The collaborating partners are the HU Berlin, WIAS and AIMS Ghana and this network is part of a DAAD-funded program that supports university cooperation with AIMS (Hochschulkooperationen mit dem AIMS). In coordination with Dr. Pamen, Dirk and Martha will soon welcome some ambitious students from the AIMS research center to Berlin for a reciprocal visit. Naturally, these young researchers are very much looking forward to experiencing the wide mathematics environment in Berlin and, in particular, are keen to learn more about the activities of the BMS community during their stay.
The BMS would like to thank Dirk and Martha for their efforts on behalf of the BMS, and thank you to Dr. Pamen for the hospitality he gave them!
AIMS was founded in South Africa in 2003 as a pan-African center providing advanced, broadly applicable mathematical skills to talented students recruited from all over the continent. Since 2011, AIMS has opened additional centers in Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, Rwanda and Tanzania.
Written by S. E. Sutherland-Figini