Science festival founder collects OBE from the Queen

The creator of the annual Bath Taps into Science festival, Professor Chris Budd, visited Windsor Castle last week to collect an OBE for services to science and maths education.

The Queen awarded Professor Budd his honour, at a ceremony that lasted around an hour. He was accompanied on the day by his wife, daughter and mother.

Bath Taps into Science

Professor Budd is one of the founders of Bath Taps into Science, a major hands-on science festival which has won several national prizes in the 14 years it has been running.

The week of events aims to show students and families how the science and maths that they learn at school can be applied to the wider world and to inspire them to want to become a ‘scientist’ or ‘mathematician’.

In 2010, Professor Budd led the hands on maths exhibition 'Living in a Complex World' which was part of the Royal Society’s 350th anniversary celebration, attended by 70,000 members of the public. Following its success, the team has since taken it to Manchester, Japan, Canada, Ireland and (every year from 2011) to the Big Bang Fair, at which it has been presented to 300,000 members of the general public.

Influencing mathematics education

As a Higher Education Academy National Teaching Fellow he set up a Communicating Maths undergraduate course and, as the Royal Institution Professor of Maths since 2000, has spoken at maths masterclasses around the country. He recruits students from the UK maths community to give talks to the general public and works tirelessly for public engagement to be regarded as important as other aspects of academia.  In 2013 he was the mathematical consultant for the 150th anniversary of the London Underground, designing a maths trail for the underground network.

He is very active in both the Institution of Mathematics and its applications (initiating and co-directing the first UK Festival of Maths in July 2014 and as Vice-President coordinating a year-long celebratory event for its 50th anniversary); and the London Mathematical Society for which he was Education Secretary. He was also part of the small team which produced the well-regarded Vorderman report on the state of maths in schools commissioned by Michael Gove.

Professor Budd OBE collected his honour from the Queen at Windsor Castle. (Left to right: Professor Budd’s wife Sue, Professor Chris Budd, his daughter Bryony, and his mother Jillian)

From meteorology to WiFi

Professor Budd has published over 100 research papers, raised over £5m in research funding and founded (and still runs) the University’s MSc in Modern Applied Mathematics. His work has always been centred on making mathematics directly relevant to the needs of society, and he collaborates closely with many different industries and bodies to do this, working on problems as varied as microwave cooking, cancer treatment, land mine detection and how to make WiFi more reliable.

He is currently working on solving problems in meteorology and climate change, and his close collaboration with the Met Office has helped to improve weather forecasting accuracy. He co-founded an international network which brings together mathematicians working in climate change with policy-makers (and leads its outreach programme). He is also the UK lead on a Marie Curie network, which trains many PhD students across Europe.

"An amazing day"

Professor Budd said: “It was an amazing day - I met lots of incredible people who’d done wonderful things.

“I was very honoured to meet the Queen herself and she seemed very interested in the Bath Taps into Science fair.”

Commenting on his work in communicating mathematics to the public, Professor Budd said: “I try to show people that maths is all around them and relevant to the real world.

“Teachers should be given the opportunity to explore the creative side of mathematics, rather than teaching it in the traditional rather formulaic way.

“Maths is increasingly important in our lives and will become more so with the big data revolution. The University of Bath is engaging strongly with this, with next week’s launch of the Bath Institute for Mathematical Innovation which will put mathematicians in touch with industry to work on real life problems.”

Professor Budd will also be awarded a prize for Mathematical Communication by the London Mathematical Society, the leading academic society for mathematicians, on 13 November.


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