First President of the Academy for the Mathematical Sciences announced

10 May 2024

The Academy for the Mathematical Sciences today announces that Professor Alison Etheridge OBE FRS will be its first President. She will take up the role on 17 June 2024.


Credit: Edmund Blok

 

The Academy will focus on mathematical sciences wherever they happen. This includes teaching and education, academic research pushing the frontiers of what is known, and mathematical sciences in business and in government. It is a UK-wide Academy, recognising that many crucial policy areas affecting mathematical sciences are devolved. It will also have a wide and inclusive definition of mathematical sciences – and is committed to improving opportunities for previously underrepresented groups of people.

The Academy’s Trustees unanimously believe that Alison is the ideal person to take forward this vision, as a widely-respected leader with experience of building links across the full spectrum of the mathematical sciences community and beyond.

Alison is Professor in Probability at the University of Oxford. She is a world expert on stochastic processes and their applications. Much of Alison’s recent research is concerned with mathematical models of population genetics, where she has been particularly involved in efforts to understand the effects of spatial structure of populations on their patterns of genetic variation.

Over the course of her career, Alison’s research interests have ranged from abstract mathematical problems to concrete applications, with significant contributions in the theory and applications of probability and in the links between them. Alongside this outstanding research, she has an exceptional record of leadership and service to the profession, working to promote an inclusive and diverse mathematical sciences community.

Professor Etheridge said, “The past 18-month set-up phase of the Academy has given us a tantalising glimpse of what can be achieved when mathematical scientists from different parts of our community work together. It is an exciting challenge to maintain that momentum and ensure that, by bringing together the whole mathematical sciences community, the Academy will have an authoritative and persuasive voice and so achieve its ambition of enabling the mathematical sciences to deliver on its full potential.”

Nigel Campbell, Chair of the Academy for the Mathematical Sciences, said “I am delighted that Alison Etheridge will be the Academy’s first President. Her track record speaks for itself, in research, in community leadership, and in her ability to bring people together. She is well-placed to be President for our crucial first 3 years, as we seek to bring the Academy fully into being, with community support, and secure DSIT and other funding.”

Alison was President of the international Institute of Mathematical Statistics from 2017 to 2018 and Head of the Department of Statistics at the University of Oxford from 2019 to 2022. She serves on the Council of the Royal Society.

Alison has chaired the Council for the Mathematical Sciences (CMS) since 2021. Following the Bond review of 2018, the CMS established the process to determine the feasibility and set-up of an Academy for the Mathematical Sciences. The CMS is an umbrella body of the 5 Learned Societies in the Mathematical Sciences: Edinburgh Mathematical Society (EMS), Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), London Mathematical Society (LMS), Operational Research Society (ORS) and Royal Statistical Society (RSS). Alison chaired the Mathematical Sciences panel for the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 and has initiated work by CMS and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) to draw upon the REF Impact Case Studies to highlight the breadth of social and economic impact that the mathematical sciences have.

The UK Government announced, in the Autumn Statement in November 2023, grant funding of up to £6 million over a period of three years to support the establishment of an incipient National Academy focused on Mathematical Sciences. Following that, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) consulted the mathematical sciences community, saying that “Feedback from the sector demonstrated strong and broad support for establishing a National Academy, highlighting the need for a leading organisation to convene the Mathematical Sciences sector.”

Earlier this week (on Monday, 7 May), DSIT launched an open competition for the grant funding of up to £6 million. The competition will run for four weeks, closing on 4 June 2024.

We – the Academy for the Mathematical Sciences (AcadMathSci) – have been engaging positively and constructively with all these DSIT processes – and will be competing for this grant. We hope, as a result, to be designated as the National Academy focused on Mathematical Sciences.

Background Notes

  1. Professor Etheridge has been appointed for a term of office that runs until the Academy’s AGM in Autumn 2027.
  2. The role was advertised on 4 March 2024. The deadline for applications was 15 April. The interview panel was chaired by Ineke De Moortel. The other interviewers were Nigel Campbell, Lynne McClure, Lesley Miles, Heather Tewkesbury, and Simon Yun-Farmbrough. Professor Etheridge was the outstanding candidate in a strong field of very high-quality candidates.
  3. More details on the 7 May announcement of the DSIT open competition are here. DSIT have said that they intend to announce the results of the open competition in July.
  4. The Academy’s website is: https://www.acadmathsci.org.uk/
  5. Professor Etheridge’s website is: https://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/people/alison-etheridge
  6. In addition to her recognition in the UK, Professor Etheridge is a foreign member of the US National Academy of Science and international honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Science.
  7. After graduate study split between the Universities of Oxford and McGill (in Canada), Alison worked at the universities of Cambridge, Berkeley (in California), Edinburgh and Queen Mary University, London before returning to Oxford.
  8. If you have questions, or want to reach us, please email contact@acadmathsci.org.uk