You could also call this article “Why I love the Grad Topology Seminar.”
At UCSB we have had a Grad Topology Seminar since the 70’s. It’s run by graduate students, and only graduate students and postdocs attend. We spend the fall giving talks about our research, prepping for advancement talks and conferences. In the winter and spring we usually select papers or books and work through them together. We either read and work through problems together, or speakers are assigned for each week. Here are some of the benefits as I see it:
- A place to test drive talks in a low pressure environment. This is especially good for first and second year students.
- Working along side other students is a great way to see other problem solving styles. Quite often, people bring places where their research is stuck and ask for suggestions.
- It’s a great way to become well read in the larger field. It’s easy in your later years to get stuck in your specialty. Also, our Topology seminar (faculty included) is focused more on current research than foundational texts. Last quarter we read most of Rolfson’s Knots and Links. This quarter it’s John Meier’s book, Groups, Graphs and Trees.
- Our seminar builds community in a wonderful way. It’s great to have a group of mathematicians at the same level with the same concerns as you. It’s also a natural source of mentoring in the department.
Do you have grad seminars?