Münster (upm/vl).
They are the first YAM fellows at the Mathematics Münster Cluster of Excellence: Junior Parfait Ngalamo, Marjory Mwanza and Abakar Assouna Mahamat (from left).<address>© Uni MS - Victoria Liesche</address>
They are the first YAM fellows at the Mathematics Münster Cluster of Excellence: Junior Parfait Ngalamo, Marjory Mwanza and Abakar Assouna Mahamat (from left).
© Uni MS - Victoria Liesche

Surrounded by top-level reseachers

YAM fellows from Africa give insights into their time at the Mathematics Münster Cluster of Excellence

"The time has just flown by," says Junior Parfait Ngalamo. The 24-year-old Cameroonian has been a scholarship holder at the Mathematics Münster Cluster of Excellence since October last year. Until the end of July, he is being supported by the "Young African Mathematicians Fellowship Programme" (YAM for short). This programme enables talented and highly motivated master's graduates from Africa to further their academic development in a stimulating, international environment and lay down a solid foundation for their own careers. The Cluster has since 2023 been a cooperation partner of the programme, which was initiated at the University of Bonn in 2021 in collaboration with the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) and its five centres.

During their stay, the YAM fellows work on their own research projects and are guided by a mentor. In his project, Junior Parfait Ngalamo is working on portfolio optimisation in the stock market with different currencies. "I'm interested in approaches that help to solve problems in the financial sector," he explains.

By way of contrast, Abakar Assouna Mahamat, who comes from the Republic of Chad, specialised in algebraic geometry during his master's thesis at the AIMS centre in Senegal. As there is a worldwide renowned research group in the field of differential geometry at Münster University, he applied to the Cluster here to learn more about Riemannian geometry.

The third member of the YAM team is Marjory Mwanza from Zambia. She completed her master's degree at the AIMS Centre in South Africa. Her focus during her time in Münster is on geometric group theory. "I've already learnt a lot through seminars, conferences and intensive reading," says the 25-year-old.

One highlight for the three of them was the network event involving all the current YAM fellows which was held in Bonn in March. They presented their projects and received a wealth of feedback from peers and audience alike. "The experience was simultaneously enriching, exhilarating and challenging at the same time," recalls Abakar Assouna Mahamat.

In their everyday work, the interaction with the other scientists in the Cluster of Excellence is something they find particularly helpful and valuable. "We are surrounded by top researchers working on fascinating subjects," says Junior Parfait Ngalamo. "What I like here is that the different research groups also have lunch together in the refectory and then discuss maths and exchange ideas over coffee."

"The scholarship holders have become a real part of Mathematics Münster. That's a win-win situation for everyone," says Prof. Raimar Wulkenhaar, the academic coordinator of the YAM programme at the Mathematics Münster Cluster of Excellence. There were many hurdles at the beginning: from visa problems and university bureaucracy to finding accommodation. Thanks to dedicated people both inside and outside the Cluster, everything was sorted out so that the three have been able to concentrate fully on their development as mathematicians. The selection round for the next scholarship holders will be starting soon. They will receive funding for ten months to cover the costs of travelling, living and accommodation.

In addition to maths, living in a foreign place is another interesting aspect of the research stay. The three YAM scholarship holders find Münster to be "quiet and relaxed". "It's cold here, but even someone like me who is used to the climate in central Africa can adapt to it," says Abakar Assouna Mahamat. At any rate, the temperature is not stopping him from considering doing a doctorate in Germany - just like the other two as well.

Author: Victoria Liesche

This article appeared in the University newspaper wissen|leben No. 3, 8 May 2024.

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