Meet the Knowledge Transfer Manager of Mathematical Sciences

Posted on: 15/11/2022
Diverse group of business people with black woman leading discussion

Introducing Dawn Geatches, Innovate UK KTN’s Knowledge Transfer Manager (KTM) of Mathematical Sciences.

Read on to discover how her specialist expertise and experience can best support you in accelerating ambitious ideas into real-world solutions.

First off, why is Mathematical Sciences key to an innovator’s journey?

Mathematical Sciences are quite often the best place to start on an innovation journey. It can bring to the surface new insights to a challenge that can change the direction of future R&D. It can challenge thinking, bring certainty, clarity, or reveal knowledge that forms the core of future products and services.

Maths is very much an exciting discipline that can be used to kick-off and accelerate innovation across all sectors and technologies.

What does your role as KTM of Mathematical Sciences at Innovate UK KTN involve?

It is my job to connect maths practitioners across a range of stakeholders including: academia, industry, small businesses, public sector, research institutions and the third sector. Through these connections, I enable the uptake of the latest maths developments to the benefit of all and the UK economy.

What does a typical day/week look like?

At the time of writing, I am learning as much as I can about Innovate UK & Innovate UK KTN and familiarising myself with the impressive body of work that my predecessor, Dr Matt Butchers completed, including introducing myself to members of the current maths network.

A typical week will include some research in preparation for writing a report, or organising a theme-focused event, e.g. looking at the role of maths in environmental sustainability; identifying and attending events to keep abreast of the latest maths research and maths-related challenges and to network; collaborating across Innovate UK sectors to bring funding opportunities to maths practitioners in all communities; and organising and running events to bring maths practitioners together with challenge holders to explore innovative solutions.

What’s your biggest priority over the next year?

In the short term, my biggest priority is to re-activate KTN’s involvement in running the maths study groups, both in-person and online.

The study group format brings together academics including lecturers, PhD students and postdocs, with challenge holders from the public sector, industry, business or the third sector, in the same space (virtual or in-person) for about three days. The challenge holders describe the challenges and the maths practitioners set about exploring them. At the end of the study group the teams often continue to work together to refine the solution leading to implementation and eventually innovation for the challenge holder.

Over the next year, I also want to focus on building a diverse and inclusive maths network to ensure that everyone, everywhere, knows they are valued and that their contributions to maths are essential to growing a balanced, equitable and inclusive society. I am prioritising building a diverse and inclusive network of maths practitioners with a passion for exploring maths for environmental sustainability – covering anything and everything from computing, supply chain networks, reducing waste, increasing energy efficiency and so on.

What upcoming innovations are you excited about in Mathematical Sciences?

Currently, I’m excited about the development of environmentally sustainable algorithms applied to computing, which means engineering software that runs the maths behind the code in a computationally efficient way.

This advancement is especially important in AI and machine learning because some techniques (e.g. deep learning) use huge amounts of computing power to run. Considering the ubiquity and increasing adoption of AI across all sectors, even small energy gains per computation soon add up to something significant.

Tell us about something exciting you’re working on?

Currently, it’s all exciting – the possibilities within KTN are endless! I’m looking forward to organising and leading my first study group session early next year.

KTN is a key partner in V-KEMS alongside the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences (ICMS), Isaac Newton Institute (INI), Newton Gateway to Mathematics, and we take it in turns to host and run one of the planned study groups per year.

In 2023, KTN will be running an exploration of how local places have changed following the pandemic. For example, looking at how the move to hybrid working has led to many town and city spaces becoming empty or partially occupied, and the knock-on effect this has had on local businesses, and so on. It will look into how the pandemic has affected the cost of living and how we look tackle recovery and inequality, very interesting stuff.

What is your previous work experience before KTN?

I’ve had a varied portfolio career so far. I dropped out of university – twice, then worked in hospital labs, retail, finance, admin, and data management. Later, I resumed education through The Open University, completed a PhD, became a Postdoctoral Researcher in the US and then landed at the UKRI research council: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) as a Research Scientist. This role also entailed a sprinkling of communicating impact and working with computing apprentices. It is fair to say I like variety in my job!

Working across different sectors has developed my listening and communicating skills, and taught me to quickly synthesise diverse information, hone in on the core details, and make connections across community sectors. This has been good preparation for my KTN role where I want to listen to and understand the challenges innovators face, and connect them across the KTN network to explore these challenges. In my last job I was involved in several environmental sustainability initiatives that I also seek to apply to maths.

I just really enjoy working within Mathematical Sciences as it is a foundational discipline – this means that most of what we do every day is built on maths. Because of this, I get to weave my way through many different sectors, discover many innovative ideas and enable them to come to fruition.

If I were an innovator, what’s one thing I’d be surprised to know or learn about Mathematical Sciences?

It can depend a lot on the innovator’s accumulated exposure to maths. For example, if the innovator is familiar with mathematical modelling they might be unsurprised to learn that maths has solved a problem of unevenly baked goods. However, if they are less familiar with maths, they may be surprised to discover it being used to explore and model how much trust the general public has in scientific communications of statistics.

Prepare to be surprised at the role that Mathematical Sciences can play in overcoming your challenge!

Contact us

Make sure to visit the Mathematical Science and Complex Systems sections of the Innovate UK KTN website to find out more about how the team can support your business.

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