Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths


Sir Michael Atiyah »   Sir Colin Blakemore »   Edgar Anderson »   Sir David Wallace »   David Broadhurst »  

 

Sir Michael Atiyah (CFF 1955-56) OM, FRS, FRSE, FMedsci, FAA, FREng studied at Princeton, Institute of Advanced Study, for his fellowship to which he later returned as Professor for three years (69-72). His academic career started in Cambridge (student and early academia), transferring to Oxford for more senior and leadership roles. In 1990 Michael returned to Cambridge to create and direct the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences (90-96) and is now at the University of Edinburgh, where he has been Honorary Professor since 1997. Collaboration with others, many of whom he met in his fellowship year at Princeton, has been key to his work; with Hirzebruch he laid the foundation of topological K-theory and the Atiyah-Singer index theorem is widely used in counting the number of independent solutions to differential equations. Later work was inspired by theoretical physics leading to improvements in quantum field theory. Used to travel from an early age, born in London to Lebanese and Scottish parents, educated in Sudan, Cairo, Alexandria, and Manchester, he has travelled extensively. He has been elected to Royal Society equivalent organisations in many countries including America, Sweden, Ireland, Australia, India and Russia. Awarded over 30 Honorary degrees, Michael has also won numerous awards for his work, including the Fields medal in 1966 (for his work in developing K theory) and the Abel prize, jointly with Singer in 2004. Michael held leadership roles in many organisations, including being President of the London Mathematical Society (74-76), President of the Royal Society (90-95), Master of Trinity College (90-97) and Chancellor of the University of Leicester (95-05). An impressive educator Michael is responsible for inspiring generations of young mathematicians, many becoming prize winners in their own right. Michael was destined to be a mathematician and quotes “I started out by changing local currency into foreign currency everywhere I travelled as a child and ended up making money. That’s when my father realised that I would be a mathematician some day.” Michael’s wife Lily, from Edinburgh, was with him from his CFF until she passed away at the age of 90 in March 2018. They had 3 sons.
Published on: 30th May 2018

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Sir Colin Blakemore (HF 1965-67) , after studying medical sciences at Cambridge, won a Harkness Fellowship to go to the University of California at Berkeley, where he worked with Horace Barlow, a leading British neurophysiologist. What was meant to be a single year turned into just over 2 years and a PhD; and it changed the direction of Colin’s career. He gave up clinical medicine and returned to teach at Cambridge. He has worked on many aspects of vision and brain development, and was one of the first to demonstrate the importance of ‘plasticity’ in the brain. In 1979, he moved to the Waynflete Chair of Physiology in Oxford, where he also directed the Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience. From 2003-7 he was Chief Executive of the Medical Research Council, and in 2012 he moved to a personal Professorship in the School of Advanced Study, University of London, where he collaborates with art historians and artists, including David Hockney and Patrick Hughes, in research on visual perception. He has 10 honorary degrees and is a member of 12 academies, including the Royal Society, the Academy of Medical Sciences and Academia Europaea. In 2014 he was knighted for service to scientific research, policy and outreach. He was the youngest person to give the BBC Reith Lectures. He has given the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, he has made nearly 1,000 broadcasts (including a 13-part series for BBC television), and he writes for national and international media. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Blakemore
Published on: 25th May 2018

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Edgar Anderson (HF 1966-68) is a Scot (B.Sc., Ph.D., D.Sc., Glasgow University) who was a Salters’ Fellow at the University of Strasbourg when he applied for a Harkness Fellowship. He worked at the Gates and Crellin Laboratories of Chemistry at California Institute of Technology, ‘CalTech’, Pasadena, Southern California on ‘The Conformational Dynamics of Simple Organic Molecules using NMR Spectroscopy’. He continued in this same broad field on his return to Britain as successively, a Ramsay Fellow, a Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and finally Professor of Organic Chemistry at University College London. He retired in 2005 having published over 120 papers in leading Chemical Journals, and has a Hirsch Index of 32. He was the Crabtree Orator in 2007 and President of the Crabtree Foundation in 2017-8. He met Eleanor Colwell, a Canadian on a short visit to Caltech, towards the end of his time there. They were married in 1970 and have lived in the same house in Rickmansworth since that time. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Published on: 25th May 2018

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Sir David Wallace (HF 1970-72) CBE FRS FREng FRSE Following undergraduate and postgraduate study at the University of Edinburgh, David continued his research in theoretical physics at Princeton University. In 1972 he was appointed lecturer in the Physics Department at the University of Southampton. In 1979 he returned to the University of Edinburgh as Tait Professor of Mathematical Physics, and Director of Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre. He was Vice-Chancellor at Loughborough University for 12 years, from 1994, and moved to Cambridge in 2006, as NM Rothschild & Sons Professor of Mathematical Sciences & Director of the Isaac Newton Institute to 2011, and as Master of Churchill College to 2014, retiring then to Scotland. He has held many honorary positions in Academies and Learned Societies, and on Trusts and Foundations, and served as a non-executive director in a number of companies. He is currently a member of Court (the Governing Body) of the University of St Andrews, a trustee of the Bill McLaren Foundation and chairs the Board of the International Centre for Mathematical Sciences. He was awarded a CBE for services to parallel computing in 1996, and knighted in 2004 for services to UK science, technology and engineering. In 1995 he ran the London Marathon, raising £8000 for Sports Aid Foundation and Loughborough Sports Scholarships. His time of just under four hours is surely the slowest ​ever in a Loughborough vest. He retired to Scotland in 2014 with his wife Elizabeth. They have one daughter, Sara. https://www.chu.cam.ac.uk/people/view/david-wallace/
Published on: 25th May 2018

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David Broadhurst (HF 1971-73) had the great fortune to be a Harkness fellow at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center when physicists were discovering the fundamental theories of the strong and weak interactions of quarks and leptons. This was followed by a Royal Society fellowship at CERN in Geneva and a fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford. David’s Harkness fellowship provided the opportunity to visit more than 40 of the United States and three quarters of its national parks. He met Margaret in Fern Canyon, Humboldt County, California and they wed in Coventry in 1975, by which time David was intensively engaged in teaching physics and mathematics to students of the Open University. He continued to combine research and teaching until his retirement from a readership in 2013, since when he has enjoyed frequent invitations to conferences and workshops on quantum field theory and the exquisite mathematics that it entails. He continues to be amazed by “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences” and lives in hope of seeing an eventual proof of the Broadhurst-Kreimer conjecture on multiple zeta values. A formula discovered by David was inscribed on the bronze statue awarded to Andrew Wiles by the Clay Mathematical Institute to celebrate the proof of Fermat’s last theorem. David served for more than 30 years as a governor of a primary school that seeks to combine sound education with human values. When in need of solace he turns to Bach and to his grandchildren.
Published on: 25th October 2018

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