RA5a: Structure,environment and staffing policy
The School of Mathematical Sciences (SMS), headed by a Dean, covers UoAs 22 (Pure Mathematics), 23 (Applied Mathematics), and 24 (Statistics and O.R.). It has its own Graduate Research Centre (GRC), headed by a Director.
SMS supports the research of its staff mainly by building up research groups that facilitate collaboration, and encourage productive discussion even where direct collaboration does not occur. A policy of research concentration, by which appointments are made only to the School's two Centres (Centre for Mathematical Analysis and its Applications and the Centre for Statistics and Stochastic Modelling), is enabling them to achieve viable size. For UoA 23 the relevant Centre is the Centre for Mathematical Analysis and its Applications (CMAIA), whose other members are the Analysis Group within Pure Mathematics.
The School operates a Points Scheme for the purpose of quantifying teaching and administrative work-load. There are differential loads respecting individual amounts of research activity. Formal appraisal, including a review of each individual's current and future research programme, occurs biennially. Between appraisals staff submit a CV and discuss their programme and workload with the Dean. Staff development includes the promotion of research, and the assimilation of newer researchers into research culture, through off-campus day meetings attended by all staff, where industrial links, grant opportunities, etc. are discussed.
An active seminar programme is seen as essential. For Applied Mathematics there are two scheduled series: Applied Mathematics and Numerical Analysis Seminars, and CMAIA Colloquia. In the academic year 1999-2000 there were 12 such Seminars and 6 CMAIA Colloquia. Members of UoA 23 also attend the Analysis seminars regularly.
Research output is submitted to the most appropriate journals, but pending their appearance, rapid pre-publication is achieved through CMAIA Reports, which are advertised and made available on the Web. All those associated with the CMAIA, including visitors, research fellows and research students, are encouraged to submit papers to the Centre’s Director, who authorises their publication in the Reports series after internal reviewing. All members of the CMAIA are active referees for a range of journals.
Travel for research purposes is supported to the extent that funds allow, the priority being help when external funds are not available. It is difficult to fully fund regular paid sabbaticals, as all our full-timers are research-active, but part-funding and flexibility in granting leave ensure that individual needs to have time out for research are, to a large extent, met. The School actively welcomes research visitors, seeking and gaining funds for them, and has hosted a number in recent years. SMS facilitates the winning of grants by the provision of information, including a bank of successful past applications; it maintains a checklist of what to ask for in a research grant which has benefited from input by the EPSRC Mathematics Programme Managers.
The mathematicians at Sussex have physically contiguous offices, with shared rooms provided for visitors and postgraduate students. Every office in the School has computing equipment (partially thanks to a gift from industry) sufficient for mathematical typesetting, internet access and printing. The Reading Room contains the current and most recent issues of the mathematics journals taken by the University, and its Computing Laboratory has powerful networked workstations and printers, maintained by a full-time Technical Officer.
Support for younger researchers is provided by incorporation into the research groups where they can be encouraged most effectively. Probationary teaching staff have a Mentor and their teaching/administrative load is reduced to a defined extent under the Points Scheme (see above). For research staff, the University subscribes to the CVCP Concordat on Employment and Career Management of Contract Research Staff, and monitors its implementation by the School. In particular, research staff have regular meetings to review their progress and prospects.
Research students have frequent contact with their supervisor. Each student also has a named 'Advisor', who normally acts as internal examiner, to provide further support. For annual review, both student and supervisor submit a report to the GRC: the Advisor and a third member of staff interview the student to give independent advice on progress and to help resolve any problems.
Research students participate in the CMAIA seminars, and financial support is provided, where appropriate, to attend suitable conferences and instructional meetings; students have for instance regurlarly attended EPSRC Summer Schools in Numerical Analysis. SMS encouraged its research students to attend EPSRC Graduate Schools well before the EPSRC made them compulsory for EPSRC-supported students. To aid preparation for conferences, a postdoc organises Graduate Seminars at which the research students give talks on their work to fellow students. Students are trained in mathematical typesetting and other research skills, including report writing. The University includes postgraduate students in its excellent welfare provision, with centrally organised Careers events. Procedures for research students, including appointment of supervisors, annual review, etc., are governed by a Code of Practice, whose operation is maintained and monitored by the University's Graduate Studies Committee, and described in University and School Handbooks.
Copyright 2002 - HEFCE, SHEFC, ELWa, DEL
Last updated 17 October 2003