Updates regarding the Western Academy for Advanced Research


Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to provide an update on the Western Academy for Advanced Research and the results of its spring 2022 competition. The Academy’s Steering Committee has selected the following two themes for its inaugural activities:

  • Beginning September 2022, Lyle Muller (Mathematics) will lead the mathematics of neural networks: new theoretical methods for biological and artificial brains.
  • Beginning January 2023, Keith Porter (Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, Civil and Environmental Engineering) will leadClimate resilient infrastructure and buildings.

Each of their interdisciplinary teams will work over a period of 12 months on a variety of outputs related to that theme. This is a very exciting time for Academy as we prepare for our official September 2022 start; expect more information about our September launch soon.

In the meantime, I want to direct you towards two initiatives that will contribute to the mathematics of neural networks theme:

2022 Western-Fields School in Networks and Neuroscience

Applications are invited for a summer school at the interface of mathematics and neuroscience. Held September 19–23 at Western, with a final session at University of Toronto’s Fields Institute on September 23, the Western-Fields School in Networks and Neuroscience will bring together advanced undergraduate students, graduate students and postdoctoral scholars for a week of training in methods for networks, dynamics, learning and modelling biological neural networks.

Postdoctoral Scholar Competition

The Academy is launching a competition for postdoctoral scholars at the interface of mathematical modelling and neuroscience. The Academy's opening theme will develop new connections between mathematics and neuroscience, leveraging new mathematical approaches to answer open questions in neuroscience. Successful candidates will receive competitive stipends and support for their academic careers.

Please forward these opportunities on to your students and postdoctoral scholars. Review of applications will begin July 15, 2022.

Next Call for Letters of Intent

The Academy’s next call for Letters of Intent (LOI) is now posted. This call is directed towards themes that would begin their work in September 2023 or January 2024. The Academic Steering Committee will provide feedback on all LOIs received to help guide preparation of a full proposal. LOIs are required to submit in the next call for proposals.

As a reminder, the Academy seeks solutions to major issues facing humanity, supporting themes of inquiry of broad significance and involve topics that can benefit from ideas drawn from the full spectrum of scholarship.

The Academy supports themes by offering:

  • Stipend support and housing subsidies for visiting fellows and postdoctoral scholars;
  • Financial support to units from which Western fellows are seconded for the year;
  • Dedicated, non-laboratory space for theme activities (e.g., meeting, seminar and office space);
  • Financial and administrative support for seminars, workshops, conferences and disseminating theme outputs; and
  • General administrative and infrastructural support.

Please feel welcome to contact me with any questions about the Academy or what makes for a successful theme proposal. Stay tuned for additional programming over the coming year.


Fred Longstaffe, PhD, PGeol, FRSC
Director, Western Academy for Advanced Research