It is with great sadness that we announce the death of our colleague, Emeritus Professor Nick Britton, who died from cancer shortly before Christmas.
A recipient of the University of Oxford Senior Mathematical Prize for best D.Phil Thesis (1978) under the supervision of Professor James D Murray FRS, Nick spent a year at Liverpool University as a lecturer before joining what was then the School of Mathematics at the University of Bath in 1980. Bath was his academic home for the next 40 years; in October 2004, he was promoted to Professor and, when he retired in 2015, became first an Honorary Professor and then Emeritus Professor.
Nick was an applied mathematician who used mathematics to build models of biological processes with particular focus on the effects of structure of biological populations on behaviours. His significant mathematical talent allowed him to adapt his mathematical approach according to the problem he was working on, and his work often led the way for others to follow. He produced more than 80 papers in refereed journals, the vast majority of which were in the broad remit of mathematical biology. Nick also wrote two books in the field; the more recent Essential Mathematical Biology, which is part of the Springer SUMS series, is now a standard recommended undergraduate text.
Nick’s passion for, and commitment to, his research field of mathematical biology was not inward-looking. In 1994, together with his long-time friend, colleague and research collaborator, Nigel Franks, Nick established the Centre for Mathematical Biology (CMB) at the University of Bath. The centre pioneered interdisciplinary research collaborations between colleagues in the Biological and Life Sciences and Mathematical Sciences and soon established an international reputation as a leading centre for work in mathematical biology. Nick was careful to nurture and develop its reputation and he continued to contribute to its activity until very recently. Nick also promoted Bath through his involvement in the leadership of the Society for Mathematical Biology, the leading international society in the field (Board Member 2006-2010; Chair of Future Meetings Committee 2008 – 2015).
In addition to his research contribution, Nick gave much to the university community. Between 2006 and 2009, a period of significant expansion in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, as Head of Department he worked tirelessly to support departmental endeavour, always with good humour, minimum fuss and without complaint. The Department of Mathematical Sciences continues to enjoy the vibrancy of a large academic community with wide-ranging mathematical interests, for which Nick must take considerable credit.
We will always benefit from Nick’s wisdom by reading his papers and books and by continuing to collaborate on interdisciplinary projects in the biological and life sciences through the CMB. But we will miss the opportunity to chat with a kind-hearted colleague; to seek counsel from a great friend; and to collaborate with a patient and broad-minded applied mathematician. We know that our sadness is shared by many former colleagues and students, who all have fond memories of Nick.
Our thoughts and deepest sympathy go out to Nick’s wife, Suzie, their daughter, Rachel, and his wider family and friends.
Nick’s funeral will take place this Friday, January 15, at 12:15.
Due to covid restrictions limiting the number of people who can attend in person, the funeral is being recorded.
You can watch it live on www.obitus.com.
Username: CORU 7792 (there is a space between the letters and numbers)
A recording will also be available from January 23rd for 28 days.
A memorial fund has been set up for Cancer Research UK which you can donate to by following this link.