News from the world of maths: Christopher Zeeman Medal for Maths Communication

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Christopher Zeeman Medal for Maths Communication

The Christopher Zeeman Medal, the first award dedicated to recognising excellence in the communication of mathematics has been launched by the London Mathematical Society (LMS) and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA).

The LMS and IMA want to honour mathematicians who have excelled in promoting mathematics and engaging with the general public. They may be academic mathematicians based in universities, mathematics school teachers, industrial mathematicians, those working in the financial sector or indeed mathematicians from any number of other fields.

Most importantly, these mathematicians will have worked exceptionally to bring mathematics to a non-specialist audience. Whether it is through giving public lectures, writing books, appearing on radio or television, organising events or through an entirely separate medium, the LMS and IMA want to celebrate the achievements of mathematicians who work to inspire others.

In a joint statement, the presidents of the LMS and IMA said, "We are delighted to be able to show how much we need and value mathematicians who can promote their subject successfully. This role is vital to inspiring the next generation of mathematicians as well as helping the wider public to enjoy mathematics."

The award is named after Professor Sir Christopher Zeeman, FRS, whose notable career was pioneering not only in his fields of topology and catastrophe theory, but who was also ground-breaking in bringing his beloved mathematics to the wider public.

Sir Christopher was the first mathematician to be asked to deliver the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1978, a full 160 years since they began. His "Mathematics into pictures" lectures, have been cited by many young UK mathematicians as their inspiration. They also led to the creation of the Ri's Mathematics Masterclasses, weekly lectures delivered to schoolchildren across the UK via a network of 50 centres.

Sir Christopher's skill as a communicator has been recognised in the wider community. In 1988, he was the third recipient of the Royal Society's Faraday Prize, awarded annually to a scientist or engineer who has excelled in communicating science to public audiences. His award was made "for the contributions he has made to the popularization of mathematics".

On the announcement of the medal, Sir Christopher said, "I am extremely honoured to have such an important award bear my name. I hope this medal will encourage more mathematicians to see communicating their work to the wider public as a key part of their role."

Nominations for the medal are now invited. To receive a nomination form, please contact:

The Secretary to the Christopher Zeeman Medal London Mathematical Society De Morgan House 57-58 Russell Square London WC1B 4HS

Or email Forms should be returned by February 2008.

posted by Plus @ 2:39 PM


At 1:27 PM, Blogger Billlion said...

Zeeman's RI lectures "have been cited by many young UK mathematicians as their inspiration".

I was certainly one! I decided both to study mathematics and to do it at Warwick on the basis of these lectures. There were quite a few of us at Warwick my year with the same story.

Now as a professor of applied mathematics I use maths to solve a wide range of problems from monitoring lung function in intensive care to desinging liquid crystal displays, to detecting threats in airport baggage.

I hope this mdeal encourages those who continue to inspire the next generations of mathematicians.

Bill Lionheart