So, I’m curious: what do those of you who are pretty vanilla mathematicians list as “synergistic activities” in your NSF bios? At the moment, all I’m coming up with is this blog.

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So, I’m curious: what do those of you who are pretty vanilla mathematicians list as “synergistic activities” in your NSF bios? At the moment, all I’m coming up with is this blog.

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The blog is a big synergetic thing. Other activities one might include are math circles, tutoring, basically any outreach activities that you might do. It is not expected so much of younger people. If you are involved in and AMS, MAA, or SIAM committees, that counts.

Anyway, the blog also counts towards broader impact. In my experience reviewers tend to view broader activity pretty broadly.

Mathematics-of-juggling lectures for the general public.

What’s sad is that may actually qualify as “vanilla” for a mathematician.

I’ve given expository lectures on math (moonshine in particular) to high school students and undergrads. I don’t know how much that counts.

I’m a little more curious about the broader impacts question. I think it is a consistent area of weakness for me, and I haven’t found anything convincing to say with respect to my research program. What do people usually put there nowadays?

As mentioned, talks for younger students and the general public — in math circles, math camps, or undergrad math clubs — are an easy way to increase your synergy. And they’re usually fun. There are also a lot of opportunities to get involved in mentoring, in a “formal enough to write it on a CV” kind of way. You can become an AWM (Association of Women in Math) mentor (yes, they need men too) without leaving the comfort of the internet. And lots of departments have their own programs. For instance, one of the main goals of Berkeley’s new “Unbounded Representations” group is to improve mentoring of all math students at Berkeley. Then there are campus-wide programs, like PDP and Edge, which focus on improving the math and science experiences of minority students. Of course, I only really know Berkeley, but I think it’s safe to say that most or all departments and universities have some people in them who are trying to increase diversity or just make the department generally friendlier, and would be happy to have you on board.