The Fields Institute Turns Twenty-Five 170725 Final book with covers - Page 97

Public Resources 75 strengths and quirks of the mathematical sciences community, as well as a profile of many of the personalities. Observed from the inside, the Canadian institutes differ significantly and operate in quite different ways. The Fields Institute is very ambitious: while its principal contributors are members of the Canadian mathematical sciences community, indeed principally from Ontario universities, it can accept proposals for activities from any mathematical scientist internationally. And the Institute’s scope is broad; scientific activities that have some mathematical component, broadly speaking, are considered to be appropriate, as long as the scientific quality is high. While most events that we organize are on topics in core mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics, the result of this breadth is that many physicists, biologists, economists and financial engineers, ecologists, and others have participated in our events. A favourite quote is from Ken Melville, a physical oceanographer from the Scripps Institute in San Diego, who, coming to Fields for a conference on ocean wave dynamics, exclaimed to me “You get to work here?” Another thing that characterizes the Fields Institute governance is the independence of its Board of Directors and the international stature of the Scientific Advisory Panel. Indeed, they can be a challenge for the Institute Director. But the high quality of our activities is a result of the fact that program proposals undergo a serious vetting. Sometimes this can be disconcerting for potential organizers. My antidote for those organizers who are asked to edit and resubmit their proposals is that, in my own turn, I was told by the SAP that we couldn’t invite Louis Nirenberg for a distinguished lecture, we had to have Jean Bourgain instead. I served on the Institute Board of Directors (2009–12 and again 2015–16, after my Directorship). During that time, John Gardner was Chairman of the Board. While the Board essentially deferred scientific decisions to the SAP, under John’s leadership it was