What happened at MOBSYM?
The Mathematics of Biological Systems Management Sympsium (MOBSYM) included participants from a wide range of backgrounds – from 21 institutions – which allowed for challenging interdisciplinary discussions. The meeting allowed 67 researchers to gather from across Australia to discuss the latest mathematical methods and important applications in public health, conservation and biosecurity.
“[The conference has] been fantastic, it’s been really interesting to get a broad range of people, and also from a range of applications,” said CEED Deputy Director Professor Michael McCarthy.
It quickly arose that many researchers were facing similar problems, such as effectively communicating results, and dealing with insufficient or biased data. Break-out sessions of 5-15 people allowed for more technical and in-depth cross-disciplinary discussion about these areas and again helping attendees make new connections. The broad range of attendees presented interesting research, which led to stimulating discussion.
“Everyone I spoke to thoroughly enjoyed themselves, it was a great opportunity to get interdisciplinary conversations and connections going,” said PRISM Director Professor Jodie McVernon.
The single-room approach gave the meeting a feeling of cohesion, particularly as speakers referenced previous talks throughout the two days. Having researchers from such different backgrounds made it much easier to concentrate on the presentations, as everything felt fresh – even though the research all had clear parallels and similar themes.
“You very much reminded me that as a researcher in statistical methodology, I really need to go out there and find interesting applications, and not just my (quite boring!) standard datasets,” said Doctor Matias Quiroz from ACEMS.
Including time for discussions panels and discussion groups allowed for greater dialogue of interesting topics. In particular about decision-making under uncertainty and value of information; interpretation and presentation of results to impact policy; and economic discounting and valuation. Hopefully new collaborations can be formed on the back of these discussions.
“It was great to have 2 days to sit back and focus on bigger issues, more general topics, meet some great people, and discover interesting ideas, papers, projects, problems, methods,” said Dr Robert Moss from PRISM.