Sunday, June 6, 2010


[ Note that all these initial posts were written while I was in transit, several days ago... ]
  I suppose I should explain why I'm going to Austria.  In a nutshell, it's to do research related to my PhD.  You can google "IIASA YSSP" and that might shed a bit of light.  It's a three-month research project, basically, working directly with one of the leading lights in my field, Ulf Dieckmann (you can google him too, no doubt).  I'll be working on a computer simulation model to test out some ideas regarding how spatial complexity (think of the transitions from one type of environment, such as desert, to another type of environment, such as grassland) affects evolution.  You may be able to track down a 2009 paper by Heinz, Mazzucco and Dieckmann, if you know how to use Web of Science or Google Scholar; that paper is the foundation for the work I'll be doing.
  So I'll be in Austria for three months working pretty intensively on this project, and at the end of that, the goal is that I'll have a publishable paper and a chapter in my thesis.  Then I'll take two weeks off to skip gleefully through some Alpine meadows, and then, volcano willing, I'll return to Montreal.  But first, I have a 10-hour layover in Amsterdam!  It's time to get some sleep, so I have the strength to do what needs to be done tomorrow.


  1. Hi Ben,
    I'm interested to apply the IIASA YSSP 2012. My PhD research is basically relevant to model a novel membrane reactor for biodiesel production. Would you mind to share how you managed to get the offer from IIASA? Your sharing is greatly appreciated. Thank you.


  2. Basically, figure out who at IIASA you would want to work with, and contact them directly. Browse the IIASA website to figure out what the program areas are, decide which program fits you (maybe Energy, from your description, but maybe not), look at their staff bios and figure out who you would want to work with, and send them an email describing your interests, your proposed project, and giving them your CV. You *can* simply apply to the YSSP directly, without contacting anyone; just fill out the online application. But your odds of getting in will improve dramatically if you make a connection with someone on staff beforehand and convince them that you belong in the program; they will then ensure that your application goes to the top of the pile. (Assuming you make a good impression; if you don't, your odds of getting in will presumably decline dramatically, instead :->). Good luck!