Brief Interviews with Young Mathematicians: Simone Göttlich

By on 05/05/2017

The ICIAM Newsletter DIANOIA is publishing a series of interviews with young applied mathematicians. Here Roberto Natalini interviews Simone Göttlich, Full Professor for Scientific Computing at University of Mannheim in Germany.

By Roberto Natalini

Q: How did you decide to become a mathematician? Whathas been the influence of your parents?

A: My mother (commercial assistant) wanted me tobecome a banker while my father (electrical engineer)pushed me into the direction of a computer scientist. Iguess, studying math was a good compromise.

Q: Could you mention some people who have been impor-tant for your education?

A: Spontaneously I would say my elementary schoolteacher, a really strong woman, that discovered my talent to play with numbers and my high school math teacher who was simply a very cool guy.

Q: To be a woman has been a problem to choose mathematics as a profession? And in your career?

A: Honestly, I never thought about this issue.

Q: What is your main focus in mathematics, the main direction in your research?

A: My scientific interests cover the research areas mathematical modeling with differential equations, numerical simulation and optimization with applications to manufacturing systems, traffic and pedestrian flow, and further engineering applications.

Q: Could you single out your best achievement up to now, something you are really proud of ?

A: My daughter. Everything else is work in progress.Please ask me again in a couple of years.

Q: You have a strong focus on applications. Why are youinterested in this direction? Also, according to you, isthere a separation between applied and industrial math?

A: This might be not typical for a mathematician, but I get inspired by applications. In my point of view appli-cations represent an unlimited source of interesting, chal-lenging and exciting problems due to its interdisciplinarynature and diversity. A separation between applied and industrial math isprobably a matter of taste. Industrial math seek soft-ware or scientific consulting solutions while applied mathis more concerned with the development of a researchframework implying emerging techniques and methods.

Q: What are the main skills that are necessary to be agood applied mathematician?

A: A good applied mathematician should be curious, crit-ical thinking, persistent, open-minded and, last but notleast, a passionate teacher.

Q: Are you able to directly interact with your industrial partners, do you need some intermediate collaborators to translate math in practical implementations?

A: Industry contacts may take various forms, e.g. student projects (internship, master thesis), workshops or joint research projects. In most cases, the contact is direct and therefore requires good communication skills. The latter is, by the way, a further characteristic for a good applied mathematician.

Q: How do you spend your time when you are not working?

A: Currently, I try to solve my personal time management problem, where the most important restriction is to spend as much time as possible with my one year old daughter.

Q: Have you other interests or hobbies? Who are your favorite writers?

A: I really love doing sports. When I was younger, I was quite a good tennis player and I also joined a handball team. However, after several injuries, I have changed to more smooth sports such as running and biking. My favorite writer is Ferdinand von Schirach, a German lawyer. He is able to explain complex and challenging legal problems in a fascinating manner.

Q: Finally, a last general question. What do you wish for Mathematics in in the next few years?

A: Currently, there is a measurable awareness for math as a key technology. But we need more positive visibility and attractive role models for the young generation. Unfortunately, mathematicians tend to undervalue themselves. We need to be more confident, more energetic and probably more enthusiastic — in particular in the public’s eye!




About Roberto Natalini

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