Mentoring African Research in Mathematics

Background

The Mentoring African Research in Mathematics (MARM) scheme supports mathematics and its teaching in the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The programme is designed to counter the mathematics "brain-drain" from sub-Saharan Africa by supporting qualified mathematics professionals in situ. The scheme concentrates on the creation of joint research partnerships between UK mathematicians, their colleagues in sub-Saharan Africa, and doctoral students of those colleagues.

The scheme is supported by funding from the Nuffield Foundation and the Leverhulme Trust, distributed jointly to: the London Mathematical Society, International Mathematical Union (IMU), the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS) and the African Mathematics Millennium Science Initiative (AMMSI). The scheme is overseen by the MARM Board.

Inquiries should be directed to the MARM Facilitator, dave [dot] johnson [at] lms [dot] ac [dot] uk.
 

MARM Board

Sir John Ball, FRS. Formerly President, IMU (2002-06)
Mathematical Institute, Oxford, UK

Professor Herb Clemens. Secretary, IMU Commission on Development and Exchanges (CDE)
Department of Mathematics, Ohio State University, USA

Dr Stephen Huggett. Programme Secretary, LMS and Chair, LMS International Affairs Committee
School of Computing and Mathematics, University of Plymouth, UK

Dr Frank Neumann. Senior Lecturer in Pure Mathematics
Department of Mathematics, University of Leicester, UK

Fiona Nixon. Executive Secretary, London Mathematical Society, UK

Professor Wandera Ogana. AMMSI Programme Director
Department of Mathematics, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Professor John Toland, FRS. President, LMS (2005-06), Director Designate, Isaac Newton Institute, Cambridge (from Oct 2011)
Department of Mathematics, University of Bath, UK 
 

How to get involved in a MARM project

A typical mentoring relationship will be a combination of two or more of the following activities:

  1. co-supervision of an African student registered for a higher degree in an African university;
  2. mentoring a research group, including its research students and post-doctoral researchers;
  3. research collaboration;
  4. giving an advanced short course in an African university, perhaps as part of a workshop;
  5. helping to improve graduate education in mathematics in the longer term.

Each project, when approved by the MARM Board, is awarded a grant for two years, during each of which the mentor visits the partner department, and there is usually a return visit in the second year. A key point is the mentor’s first visit, which is preceded by preparatory lectures within the partner department on a topic arranged by e-mail beforehand. In the course of that visit, a leader is found within the department, the main needs of that department are identified and the broad outline of a research project is agreed, subsequently to be pursued by e-mail and further visits. A contract is sent out by the MARM board after the first visit, and the mentor is expected to submit progress reports at the end of each year.

New mentors are still being sought. We are looking for mathematicians interested in being part of these mentoring collaborations, and welcome applications from those with no prior experience of collaborating with research workers in Africa, as well as from those with existing links with African research.  Prospective mentors are invited to nominate up to three African institutions with which they would most like to collaborate, although we cannot make any guarantees, of course. Alternatively, applicants should make a strong case for support for an existing link.

When an application is received, the LMS begins a process of matching with corresponding applications from African departments on the basis of common research interests and, if possible, preferred locations. The result is then put to the mentor and department for agreement. When this is reached, the partners draw up a proposal for the Board. Once this has been approved, the partners correspond by e-mail as a preliminary to the first visit.

Anyone interested in becoming a mentor is encouraged to complete and return the application form.