How long have you worked at the Uni? What does your role involve?
11 and a half years. My role involves research, teaching and admin... not necessarily in that order! My research is on how we can better use computers, to design better buildings.
I am also one of the Deputy Directors of the University’s Institute for Mathematical Innovation (IMI), which amongst other things, involves bringing in maths-based consultancy projects from industry, as well as helping connect colleagues from right across campus to collaborate on research.
What would you most like to achieve while at the University?
Professorship! And to create my own group of researchers who are interested in the same things as me.
Name one thing that makes you feel proud to work at the University of Bath?
I guess I do interact with industry a lot and occasionally you come across someone who says “I did my degree at Bath and I loved it!”. The positive opinion that people have of the Department is nice.
What piece of advice would you like to give to a student?
Never eat anything bigger than your head - it’s a Simpsons quote, but I live by it!
Otherwise, not to focus too much on just work. University is about learning who you are in life as well as getting a degree, so I would try and make sure that you get the most out of being a student as well as learning, this is often overlooked.
Who was your most influential teacher/educator, and why?
Mr Furey, my A-Level Further Maths teacher. He taught his entire maths class how to play Bridge and we played it at every spare opportunity. The school ran open day trips to universities, and they ran one to Cambridge. There was no way I would have thought of going to Cambridge except all my mates wanted to go because their parents had – and they said “why don’t you come with us we can play Bridge on the coach”. So I went with them for a day out, rather than to see the university. But I liked it, applied, got in, and did my Maths degree there!
Without him teaching us Bridge, I never would have gone to Cambridge.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Astronaut. I still do! Although I’ve kinda had to accept that it isn’t going to happen! I would like to experience weightlessness, and being an astronaut is the only way you can do it properly.
What was your first job?
A paper round was my first job, then ever since I was 15 I made sure I got a summer job every year. I spent one summer painting grey things grey (which wasn’t that exciting), I wrote software, I helped an accountant. I grew up near a steelworks and we went in and jumped into pits of grease and cleaned it all down – but we got paid a hell of a lot of money for getting very dirty.
If you could start your own dream business, what would it be?
Bed tester? I really enjoy writing software, so it would be a software writing business. I don’t mind what the software is for, it’s the problem solving aspect I like.
Where is your favourite holiday destination and why?
I really like visiting places I haven’t been, so I would like to go to Antarctica and Australia. Antarctica would be great as it’s really different, just to experience it, but it’s not what I would class as a ‘holiday destination’! When I grew up I always wanted to go abroad but couldn’t speak a foreign language so Australia was the safest bet, where it was nice, different, and they all spoke English.
What’s your favourite book and why?
Flatland by E. A. Abbott. I give it away as a prize in my lectures sometimes. A teacher gave it to me to read, it's not a long book, but it’s very interesting and I’m quite evangelical about it. I’ve not quite got to the point of leaving it in hotel rooms yet, but it’s really nice.
When are you happiest?
When I’m asleep!
If you could meet anyone in the world dead or alive who would it be and why?
Fermat. He’s a mathematician who said that he’d solved this really interesting problem, but he didn’t quite have space to write the answer down in his letter. Then he died... So no one knows if he really had solved it, and if he did, what his answer was. I’d like to go and ask him and solve the mystery. It’s called “Fermat’s Last Theorem” for obvious reasons!
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
OK, I’ll tell you three things, and only one of them is lie, see if you can work out which, without using Google!
- My Uncle wrote the music to “Psycho”
- I have launched rockets with NASA
- There is a 3D printed model of my brain on the wall in the Science Museum.
Tell us your favourite joke
This is one my son told me, I’m not sure it’s going to work written down, but it cracks me up every time I think about it:
Me: Knock knock
You: Who’s there?
Me: Interrupting cow