Professor C. S. Chen speaks of his sabbatical leave at WIT in England

Appeared in the International Journal of Boundary Element Communications, Volume 8, No. 4, 1997.

My sabbatical leave during 1996-1997 at the Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT) was the most memorable and productive year in my academic career. I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience of sabbatical leave to the audience of ISBE, especially to those researchers who plan to take their sabbatical leave in the near future.

In 1994, Professor P A Ramachandran at Washington University at St Louis suggested that I contact Professor C A Brebbia to spend my sabbatical leave at WIT, a world renowned research centre in boundary elements. Professor Ramachandran strongly recommended that WIT is an excellent place to further develop the skill in my research in boundary element methods during my sabbatical leave. I sent Professor Brebbia all my work in this area and asked to meet him personally at BEM 17 at University of Wisconsin, Madison. When I finally met him in 1995 at Madison, I was pleased by Professor Brebbia's enthusiasm in
welcoming me at WIT. With the support of Professor Brebbia, I received the Distinguished Scientist WIT Scholarship which was a contribution toward my accommodation expenses.

With the support from Professor Brebbia, I submitted my sabbatical leave application to our university, University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), and my sabbatical leave was approved by UNLV. On August 24, 1996 I travelled to WIT in England and devoted myself in the research of boundary element methods for the entire year of sabbatical leave. On August 12, 1997 I completed my sabbatical leave at WIT and returned to the US with my family.

When I look back and evaluate what I have learned and accomplished at WIT, it was indeed a very productive year. During my sabbatical leave, I collaborated with six researchers and four of them are from WIT (Professor C A Brebbia, Drs H Power, M Zerroukat and Y F Rashed). Meanwhile, I also continued to work with my collaborators Dr M A Golberg in the US and Dr Y C Hon in Hong Kong through email. As a result, eight manuscripts have been completed and submitted for publication in various journals. On the eve of my departure, the ninth manuscript was in the final stage of completion. Most of these papers are the fruit of the collaboration with researchers at WIT. Indeed, WIT provides an excellent working environment for researchers. Dr Zerroukat, an expert in moving boundary problems, was my office mate. We were able to constantly exchange our ideas in research and eventually linked two different fields together effectively. Dr Y F Rashed was a PhD student during my stay at WIT. We had some serious discussions regarding his PhD thesis in the area of the DRM. By accident, the discussions led to an interesting problem in the DRM. By the end of my sabbatical leave, we had co-authored three papers in the DRM for the Helmholtz-type operators. Dr Power is a well-known researcher in fluid dynamics and I learned much from him. We also had three collaborations. Perhaps the most significant accomplishment of my stay at WIT was the award of a joint international collaboration research grant by NATO. Professor Brebbia suggested to me that we should work together on a grant proposal. After some discussion, we decided to apply the idea of compactly supported radial basis functions (CS-RBFs) to handle large scale problems in the DRM. CS-RBFs, the state of the art for multivariable surface interpolation for large scale problems, was recently developed by the research group of Professor Robert Schaback at the University of Goettingen in Germany. We were happy that both of our efforts in pursuing these topics had been recognised. The NATO research grant award came at the end of my sabbatical leave. Due to this grant, Professor Brebbia and I will be able to exchange visits to each institution and continue our research collaboration after my sabbatical leave.

During my sabbatical leave, I also travelled extensively to conferences in the US and Europe, and gave lectures at various universities in the UK and Germany. I have not only established strong academic connections between my home institution, UNLV and WIT, but also with other research institutions in the UK and Germany.

In conclusion, I sincerely thank Professor Brebbia at the host institution and UNLV for providing the support of my sabbatical leave. I have learned a great deal from scientists at WIT and also contributed my knowledge in the area of the DRM and mathematics to WIT. I believe I have considerably strengthened my capability in my research during my sabbatical leave. I also believe this is what sabbatical leave is all about.