The Abbey School, 1971 Leaver

I was a pupil at The Abbey School, where I remember particularly Miss Castledine’s wonderful Mathematics teaching, playing the organ in Malvern Priory, freezing cold dormitories, and running in the rain on the Malvern Hills. I saw my first computer in Malvern in 1970, at the government research lab which is now the commercial company Qinetiq.

From The Abbey I went to Cambridge, and was awarded a first class degree in Mathematics at Girton College, and a PhD from the University of Warwick. My career as a researcher at the interface of Mathematics and Computing has taken me all over the world, working in universities, and industrial labs, on how to make computers better at solving mathematical problems, and subsequently to senior academic leadership in the University of London. I have been appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, a fellow of both the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of London

I am a passionate advocate for women in Science, and was the first female professor in any discipline at the University of St Andrews. I now have a portfolio career, working at the Universities of Oxford and Edinburgh. My broader work on the culture and context of Mathematics and Computing includes a recent popular book on the mathematics of the nineteenth century pioneer Ada Lovelace, often called the “first computer programmer”. 

What does success look like?

Being able to help others define and achieve their own success.

What is your best piece of advice?

Take risks, seize opportunities, and don’t be afraid of making mistakes.

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