My Return to Kyoto after the HeKKSaGOn internship

by Timo Essig (Postdoc, Hokkaido University)


In March 2016, I was able to do a three weeks internship at Kyoto University within the framework of the HeKKSaGOn Internship Programme to experience Japanese university life and talk to Japanese researchers. When I left Kyoto, I did not think that I would return within the next years. But I was wrong: In December 2018, I returned to Kyoto University as a conference speaker to give a talk in the “Research on Topology and Differential Geometry using Singularity Theory of Differentiable Maps” conference.

After leaving Kyoto in 2016, I finished my PhD at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and worked as a lecturer at the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology, Germany. Since November 2018, I am a postdoc at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan, supported by a postdoc fund of the Canon Foundation. I will stay there for one more year to work with professor Toru Omoto on intersection space cohomology and characteristic classes of singular algebraic varieties.

During my internship, I assisted in a project for developing digital teaching materials in German for Kyoto University students. The project was coordinated by the research group of professor Masatake Dantsuji and associate professor Hiroki Nanjo and utilized the multimedia equipment of the Academic Center for Computing and Media Studies at Kyoto University. Moreover, I gave a lecture at the weekly seminar of the Research Institute for Mathematical Sciences about the topics of my research. My kind hosts at the institute were professor Takuro Mochizuki and professor Hiraku Nakajima. I talked about the intersection space cohomology theory for singular spaces, a topic I picked up again and expanded by the results of my PhD thesis and my subsequent research at my conference lecture in 2018. I explained the different approaches to the theory based on clear examples, compared them to each other and presented the central results of the theory.

After a HeKKSaGOn Internship Timo Essig returned to Japan for as a Postdoc.

Timo Essig lecturing at a conference at Kyoto University

I enjoyed the conference a lot, attended several interesting lectures and had insightful discussions with the other speakers and researchers. In the best case, this return to Kyoto University might influence my research in a meaningful way during my time in Sapporo and beyond. At the end of the week, I was also able to meet professor Mochizuki again and talked to him about my current research and future plans. He organized another conference, which took place in Kyoto at the same time. Fortunately, professor Nakajima, who moved to the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe since 2016, gave a talk at this conference, which I attended. It was a great pleasure to see him again as well.

I enjoyed returning to Kyoto for the conference a lot and although my stay was not hosted by the HeKKSaGOn network, I think that the consolidation of the international connections during this week, both on the professional and personal level, is according to the spirit and ideas of HeKKSaGOn. I am still grateful that I was provided with the chance to do the internship in 2016 as well as being invited as a conference speaker in 2018. The return to Kyoto showed me that you never know when you will return to a place you have enjoyed visiting. Although I do not know, when I will return to Kyoto University, I hope that, again, it will be much earlier than I expect now.