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Director's Report

Warwick Complexity Science Doctoral Training Centre

Director’s report to Advisory Board, 21 May 2008

The grant was awarded late Aug 2006, including three lecturers (x 4.75 years) and four cohorts of MSc+PhD students starting with Oct 07 (sic), notionally intakes of 7,8,8,8.

The DTC sits within the wider Complexity Complex research umbrella. The University committed to house the DTC in a dedicated Centre: this Warwick Centre for Complexity Science is now taking shape within the Zeeman Building extension: occupation expected June 08.

Warwick succeeded first with its Complexity RCUKF 2006 bids, leading to three RCUKF associated with the Complexity Complex and respectively underwritten as permanent posts by Maths, Physics and Computer Science. To this we added the three DTC lectureships respectively underwritten as permanent posts by Maths, Physics and Statistics. All six staff were in post by October 07 (net of one having to be filled twice), plus one candidate whom we did not appoint has now obtained a fellowship to join Maths and Complexity.

Recruitment of 8 EPSRC funded students for 2007 entry closed in May 07, although we refilled one place in September upon a late withdrawal; in addition we recruited one self-funded overseas student. The backgrounds and starting research directions of these students are shown in the confidential appendix. One student is struggling with a medical problem.

The DTC just finished two terms into its taught programme. 5 of 8 regular MSc modules are being delivered by new Complexity appointees (Stats, Physics x2, Computer Science, Maths), 1 by Engineering/Math, 1 by Physics and 1 drawn from MOAC/Systems Biology. The module delivery with Engineering was not a success and we plan to replace it for next year.

Other training activities have included a dedicated Transferable Skills Day on Team Building, in addition to multiple exercises in research presentation. The three Warwick DTCs share a weekly student targeted Seminar, and Complexity students also attend the weekly Complexity [research] Forum. We sent the students to external research meetings at Imperial College (Complexity) and Bath University (The Challenge of Complexity), they should attend a further meeting at Bath in September on Emergence in Complex Systems. They all attended our own three-day Winter School on Evolutionary Dynamics, as well as one day research events on Pattern Formation, Complexity Measures, and Discrete Maths & Complexity.

Students are currently engaged on their first of two research miniprojects, giving them an in-depth taste of research before committing to PhD project. They are presenting an interim poster on their miniproject at the Advisory Board meeting, to be followed by a talk at the DTC Annual Retreat 16-19 June and a written report thereafter.

For 2008 entry we have 6 offers accepted to date for our EPSRC funded places, with more offers pending (including six of fees-only support to EU nationals). There are also some overseas prospects (one seems secure so far).

Building international links and recruitment potential for the DTC is a priority. Summer 2007 we bid unsuccessfully to coordinate a Marie Curie Initial Training Network with nodes in Leipzig, Paris, Turin, Warwick and Zurich, and we are looking at a new ITN bid in the light of experience gained. Complexity is part of wider developing Warwick links with Boston University, and we have bid for a dedicated Science Bridge with Fudan (China) in which the Warwick DTC’s (led by Complexity in this case) would play a major role.

RCB 15 May 08

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