|That's me on the left, the famous Colin Fox from New Zealand in the middle, and Tiangang Cui, originally from China, but now a professor at Monash University in Melbourne.|
The last two weeks were spent with research collaborators, who are also friends. We all stayed at the MATRIX conference center in Creswick, Victoria, ate great food, drank a lot of coffee, and immersed ourselves in mathematics for two straight weeks. At the end of it, I feel rejuvenated as a researcher, which I needed. It was even worth missing out on two weeks of Missoula summer, which is saying something.
Creswick is a neat little town about 20 minutes drive from the larger town of Ballarat in the province of Victoria. People who work in Ballarat, but want a small town life, live in Creswick, so despite being small, the town has a 'hipster feel' (as Colin put it), with good cafes, restaurants, and a farmer's market. It is also winter down under and so the leaves had fallen, the days were short (sunset at 5pm), and the temps were chilly, like mid-to-late October in Montana. And finally, MATRIX is on the edge of the forest, with roads and trails for hiking and running, so I was able to keep some semblance of fitness (I hope).
Over the course of the two weeks, roughly 50 researchers came and went, with about half staying for the full two weeks. To me, the workshop felt like a mathematics retreat, and it has left me feeling professionally rejuvenated (as I already mentioned) even though I worked, more or less, from dawn to dusk each day. Conference attendees came from Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., Canada, China, Finland, England, and Italy (I think that covers it).
The workshop was organized by my collaborator Tiangang Cui (TC), who is a new professor at Monash Univeristy in Melbourne. TC hails from China, but did his Bachelors-through-PhD degrees at the University of Aukland, in New Zealand, and then spent four years as a post-doc at MIT in Boston. TC also showed me around Melbourne all day on Saturday. We toured most of the city, which is huge at over 4 million people. All in all, it was a fantastic two weeks, but I'm anxious to get home and soak up some Montana summer.