That is an interesting proposal. As much as I might wish to spend that kind of time I think it is impossible. But the person that I think is absolutely THE BEST for you -- if you were lucky enough to get him (and his wife, Lilyan, also brilliant) to visit is Douglas White of UC Irvine. Here is his web page,
There is no one in the discipline better at resonating widely and creating new thoughts.
On Wed, Mar 14, 2012 at 5:12 PM, <email@example.com> wrote:
Dear Dr. Bearman,
I am a mathematician currently working at the University of Ulm, Germany. Your name was suggested to me by Dr. Monika Krause, a sociologist at the University of London.
I am writing to you for an academic reason. You may possibly know the ZIF (Zentrum für Interdisziplinäre Forschung) based in Bielefeld, Germany. The ZIF is the University of Bielfeld's IAS and a leading institution in the landscape of Germany sociology. Through the co-funding of the University of Bielefeld and the regional government of Lower Saxony, the ZIF has been supporting since the 1970s a few highly interdisciplinary research groups every year. In fact, I myself am currently submitting an application, jointly with two colleagues (Fatihcan Atay at the MPI in Leipzig and Pavel Kurasov at the University of Stockholm), on the mathematical analysis of networks in the physical, biomedical and social sciences. We have passed the first selection and are currently preparing the full version of the application.
Should our proposal be approved, we would receive a good budget to set up a research group to be based at the ZIF between 2012 and 2015: the first year we would be essentially preparatory, the third would be devoted to conclude the work we already started, while during the second year the three organizers would be resident at the ZIF and would be working together for six months. All of the PIs are mathematical physicists, but the idea of the project is to use mathematics only as a common language and to rather devote most of our attention to the role played by networks in other sciences. In comparison to what has already been so successfully done over the last 15 years in the field of complex networks, we would like to use some harder (or, at least, less soft) mathematical tools: essentially, symmetric graph theory, functional analysis and differential or difference equations, to complement statistical methods.
Much of the group's budget would be devoted to invite colleagues (needless to say: colleagues active in potentially far away areas) with whom we would discuss and (try to) find contact points: we would particularly like to meet economists, ecologists and sociologists. Admittedly, our research plan is very speculative, just like almost every truly interdisciplinary research. Though, it is - I am convinced - potentially very interesting and innovative. It would be very interesting to discuss with you, both because your own research topics are of course tightly related to those of our project in Bielefeld and also because (not less important) your extensive experience with interdisciplinary research can teach us a lot (although the theory of interdisciplinarity itself will not be a research topic for us).
Specifically, my proposal to you is that (assuming that our research project is approved) you come to Bielefeld and spend with us a few weeks (two to four, say, depending on your personal commitments) at a time suitable to you between October, 2013 and March, 2014. You would be living with us in the campus of the ZIF and discuss with the "fellows" present at the time - likely a half-dozen, working on various aspects of human sciences. I realize this is all terribly premature (this is something that would begin at earliest in one year and a half), but the ZIF is interested in a possible core of "fellows" who accept to participate - even just in principle, at this early stage. The point is that these names may clarify the approach and the disciplinary spectrum of our research project.
If you are unwilling or unable to accept our invitation, I would be very grateful if you could suggest to me some colleagues of yours who might, in your opinion, be interested in our project.
Thank you for your attention.
Yours sincerely, Delio Mugnolo
-- Jun.-Prof. PD Dr. Delio Mugnolo Institut für Analysis Universität Ulm D-89081 Ulm Germany tel: +49-(0)731-5023603 fax: +49-(0)731-5023619 www.mathematik.uni-ulm.de/analysis/mugnolo