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"Communicating mathematics to non-mathematicians" A workshop for PhD students in mathematics


8 février 2018


Dr. Ana Khukhro, Université de Neuchâtel, Prof. Alain Valette, Université de Neuchâtel


Prof. Ann Dooms, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgique


In several occasions besides teaching, a mathematician can be led to explain mathematical ideas to non-mathematicians: to high school students interested in studies/careers in mathematics; to the public, during math exhibits or popularization talks; to journalists; to fellow scientists in an interdisciplinary collaboration; to members of selection committees in job interviews; and, last but not least, to family who tries to understand what you do on an everyday basis. You will need to change your communication strategy in function of your audience and of the expected benefit.

This is a follow-up of the quite successful workshop « Communicating mathematics to fellow mathematicians » organized in Neuchâtel in September 2016. However the two events are completely independent. We plan a hands-on workshop where PhD students will be assigned homework in advance, in the form of a short presentation to prepare in view of a targeted audience of their choice. Then on the day of the workshop, they will have to present it in front of their fellows and the 3 senior people. It will then be collectively analyzed and reworked with positive criticism.

On the homework: The emphasis will be on oral presentation. Participants are asked to prepare, for the day of the Workshop, an 8 minutes presentation on the mathematics around their thesis, and are free to choose the targeted audience (a non exhaustive list: kids, teenagers, a person you meet in the train/plane, an industrial, a panel of scientists, a math exhibit...; NOT allowed: a colloquium talk for fellow mathematicians!). They are also required to hand in advance a one-page document containing: title, intended audience, and abstract written for the targeted audience. Please send this document in pdf form to Alain Valette, by the deadline of Jan. 31, 2018. Language: English.

Program of the day: (Room: to be announced later)
8:30 Welcome coffee
9:00 - 9.10: Start + introduction
9.10 - 9.40: Mystery activity (to get introduced to each other)
9.40 - 11.00: 8 minutes-presentations
11.10-12.00: Talk by Prof. Ann Dooms : « Communicating mathematics to non-mathematicians »
12:15 - 13:15: Lunch
13.20 - 15.00: Workshop on re-working the presentation (please bring a laptop or tablet connecting to the Internet) 15.00 -17.00: Reworked presentations, with feedback from the audience
17.00 - 17.15: Conclusions
17:15 - (⋯) Apéro

On the main speaker:
After a thesis in pure mathematics (group rings), Ann Dooms became the leader of the research groups in digital mathematics at VUB. She is now collaborating with art historians and experts in forensics, in applying wavelet theory to restoration and authentication of artwork. This led her to take special curricula in communication of science. See: As a sample, see her TED-talk:


Institut de Mathématiques, Université de Neuchâtel




The number of participants is limited to 8, on a first-in first-served basis. Please register on the website

AND by sending an e-mail to Prof. Alain Valette



Deadline for registration 05.02.2018
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