The Plus Team

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Editors — Rachel Thomas and Marianne Freiberger

Plus is led by co-editors Marianne Freiberger and Rachel Thomas who write and produce all the original content, manage collaborations and provide the editorial vision for the project.

Before joining Plus in 2001, Rachel was a maths consultant in Australia working for government and industry. She edited the Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society and has developed and taught science writing workshops for graduate students. She also worked with Marcus du Sautoy to create mathematical walking tours and a virtual mathematical tour guide of the world, and trained and managed a team of undergraduate and postgraduate student volunteers. She has appeared on Radio 4 and local radio, BBC World News and on the Guardian's Science Weekly podcast. Rachel obtained her MSc in Semigroup Theory in 1998 from the University of Western Australia. She was a governor and Chair of Governors at a local London primary school from 2011 to 2018.

Marianne joined Plus in 2005 after doing a PhD and then a three year postdoc at Queen Mary, University of London. As a researcher she worked in complex dynamics, the area of pure maths that has given us the Mandelbrot set. During her time as a researcher she also held various teaching engagements. In the world of maths communication she has been Editor-in-Chief of the Mathscareers website, given presentations to mathematicians about how to communicate their work to a wider audience, and to journalists about how to deal with maths in the media. She has been a TEDx speaker and an invited speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2010.

Rachel and Marianne have co-authored several popular maths books including Numericon: A journey through the hidden lives of numbers and Understanding numbers, and were editors on the book 50: visions of mathematics. They have recently been Science Editors for the Discovery+ documentary series Universe Unravelled about the work of the Stephen Hawking Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. Between them they have over 35 years of experience writing about mathematics for a general audience.


Owen Smith

Owen joined the MMP team in June 2002. He is responsible for the design, implementation and maintenance of the Mathematics outreach projects websites (including the Plus website) within the MMP Group. His role includes the design, implementation and upkeep of websites, from initial consultations through to completion. He works with teaching and non-technical staff to produce high quality content for the web and advises on and implements Web Accessibility and Usability.

He oversees all the MMP website design and analytics, and has provided advice and support for other research groups and departments in the University on Web design, hosting and analytics, including the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and the Faculty website. He advised the Cambridge Admissions Office on digital evaluation strategies and web analytics tools for the HE+ online project.


Julia Hawkins

Julia Hawkins is Deputy Director of the MMP. Before joining the MMP, Julia taught in secondary schools and was a GCSE examiner, and then worked in the commercial sector developing international training workshops and conferences on development and infrastructure finance for clients including the EBRD and World Bank.

Since joining the MMP in 1999 to help set up and develop the project, she has played a central role in strategic planning, management, fundraising, evaluation, and external liaison, with the project growing to become one of the University of Cambridge's flagship outreach initiatives. She sits on a number of committees and working groups concerned with outreach, access, online communication and community engagement, has been a school governor for two UK secondary schools, and in 2008 was seconded to the post of Interim Head of Widening Participation in the University of Cambridge’s Admissions Office.

She has managed a wide range of external collaborations, including our Maths and Sport project as an official partner in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games education programme, and projects with Arsenal FC and the BBC. Her work with policy makers has included leading a study commissioned by the Royal Society’s Advisory Committee for Mathematics Education evaluating the national provision and take-up of mathematics enrichment activity, from which the recommendations were adopted by the UK Government's Department for Education, and she has advised several other departments, universities and institutions, nationally and internationally, on public engagement, outreach and social impact strategies and practice.


Former Plus people

Plus wouldn't be what it is today without the work of the following wonderful people!
  • Mike Pearson, computer officer and graphic artist
  • Robert Hunt, executive editor
  • Helen Joyce, editor
  • Charles Trevelyan, graphic designer
  • Mark Wainwright, assistant editor
  • Kona Andrews, assistant editor
  • William Janse van Rensburg, computer officer and graphic artist
  • Marc West, assistant editor
  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.