Last week, the Networks Match Making Event took place. The aim of this event was to bring together researchers from social sciences, economic sciences, mathematics and computer science sharing an interest in complex networks, with the aim to discover valuable synergies.
The idea for such an event arose about 1.5 year ago after the midterm review. The review committee advised us to collaborate with disciplines outside mathematics and computer science in which complex networks play a significant role. Frank den Hollander (one of our Principal Investigators) organized a brainstorm with a few people he knew from economic and social sciences and during this meeting the idea was born to organize a three-day match making event. Ines Lindner (Vrije Universiteit) was very enthusiastic and offered to be one of the main organizers together with Frank.
As the programme manager and head of the Networks support office I was asked to join the organizing team. I do not know anything from networks science, mathematics, economics or what so ever (okay, chemistry), but I DO know something about organizing events. Patty Koorn (Eurandom) also joined the club and then we could start.
I really enjoy working in a team with such passionate scientists; their commitment, knowledge and creativity is endless. It was quite challenging to organize a different type of event. You cannot just give state-of-the-art research presentations. The programme and it’s set-up should stimulate the participants to get to know each other and to explain their research topic on a very basic level . For discovering synergy it is necessary that each participant presents his or hers research questions instead of their results (what they commonly do…). And how do you prevent people who know each other well from clumping together? They should mingle.…
After all kind of crazy ideas (herding sheep for team building), we came up with an interactive programme with flip-over sessions, making use of colored post-its to create mixed teams (“Are you a mathematician? Then you get the pink post-its”) and a pubquiz to get to know each other in a informal way. And it worked out! 45 participants really enjoyed the event and I think that various matches have been made. Mission accomplished!