Saturday, December 14, 2013

The chemistry within networks

On December 11 and 12, my friend, Tamiki Komatsuzaki, organized the 14th RIES-Hokudai Symposium in Sapporo, Japan. I was lucky to be invited to present our work. I would argue that all the speakers were similarly lucky. The symposium was a gathering of representatives from disparate fields and several countries. While there, I learned that "Hokudai" itself is a fusion of Hokkaido and Daigatsu (university in Japanese).

At the RIES-Hodukai Symposium, we were brought together under the unifying theme of networks (mou in Japanese.) Network theory is fast growing into its own independent field, but it also serves as an interdisplinary glue connecting mathematics and computing to nearly everything. As such, the speakers spoke about transportation, nanoparticles, organic synthesis, cells, et cetera. The theme is also a double entendre. One intent of the workshop is to create a stronger human network between its diverse participants. This resonates with Prof. Kohei Tamo, the current President of the Chemical Society of Japan: “I often advise young researchers to make 100 friends at the expense of one paper." Of course, the network doesn't help if you don't have the papers (and the results they represent.)

It was exciting to see and participate in this effort urging us all to think about science broadly and across international lines. Hats off to Japan for supporting this!

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