International Focus workshop on Granular and Particulate Networks (8 - 10 July 2019)
Danielle S. Bassett (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA)
Karen E. Daniels (NC State University, Raleigh, USA)
Mason A. Porter (University of California, Los Angeles, USA)
Organization: Katrin Lantsch (Max-Planck-Institut für Physik komplexer Systeme, Dresden)
The emphasis of our focus workshop was to address the key questions in granular and particulate networks through a balance of methods-oriented and application-oriented talks across experiment, computation, and theory. Our speakers (ranging from early-career to established) were Erin Koos, Marc Timme, Silke Henkes, Jonathan Kollmer, Antoinette Tordesillas, Andrea Liu (colloquium), Xiaoming Mao, Michael Engel, Anton Souslov, Dawa Seo, Erin Teich, Carl Dettmann, Eleni Katifori, Konstantin Mischaikow, Kabir Ramola, Katie Newhall, Zackery Benson, Estelle Berthier, Giovanni Petri, Matthias Schröter, and Jürgen Kurths.
By having group-wide discussions roughly every 2 talks, all newcomers were able to hear (and contribute to) the scientific conversation, rather than having those take place in small groups that excluded their participation. Additionally, having NSF travel funds available led to a significant number of early-career researchers presenting talks and posters. One of the early-career researchers commented on how the long, communal tables further encouraged conversations across disciplinary and career-stage boundaries.
We also held a scientific communication panel—with moderator Karen Daniels and panelists Zoe Budrikis, Mason Porter, and Olga Shishkov—whose wide-ranging topics included pressures that arise from open-access and high-impact publishing, developing writing skills, and opportunities for communicating with non-specialist audiences.
A key scientific outcome is that there are network techniques that are ripe for use, and that participants gained access to information and connections to start new avenues for analysis of computational and experimental data. The final discussion led to a plan to have a second workshop in 2 years, as these new research directions start to bear fruit. We have created a resource page to share some of the key papers and methods that were mentioned during the course of the workshop. We are in touch with the American Physical Society Division on Soft Matter Physics (via organizer Karen Daniels) about plans for a Short Course at the 2021 APS March Meeting on topological data analysis in granular and particulate networks. Mason Porter has volunteered to be lead organizer, and core participant Giovanni Petri has also indicated potential willingness to be a lecturer.