Mount Carmel Primary School and St Joseph's Academy in Kilmarnock. Then on to the University of Strathclyde.
Standard Grades (a bit like Nat. 5s) in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Computing, English, French, History and Music. Highers in Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Computing, Biology, and English. CSYS (like Adv. Higher) in Maths. B.Sc. (Hons) in Mathematics. Finally, a PhD in Mathematics
Three years in a McDonald's restaurant and a year in a Subway restaurant whilst a student (plus three months working for Ford Motor Company. Then a barman whilst doing my PhD. Teaching assistant (1 year) and Research Fellow (3 years) whilst at the University of Strathclyde. Then a Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at the University of South Wales (3 years). Then one year working as an analysis for Morgan Stanley. Now a Senior Lecturer at the University of the West of Scotland (5 years).
Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of the West of Scotland.
I am a Senior Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of the West of Scotland. I enjoy football, muay thai, and motorcycles.
I am a 38-year old applied mathematician who has previously worked for Ford Motor Company in Essex, the University of South Wales in Pontypridd, and Morgan Stanley in Glasgow.
I live just outside of Glasgow with my partner, who is a neuroradiologist (and therefore says she is a “proper doctor”, unlike me).
I’m a vegetarian (although love the taste of meat), play football and the bass guitar (both poorly). Here I am playing against a team of ex-professionals in a charity match at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock.
I enjoy muay thai and boxing.
I ride a Honda VFR750 when it isn’t raining (so about once a year),
and my best mate is Arnold Swarzenegger.
Finally, one of the things I’ve said above isn’t true! 😉
How I Use Maths In My Job:
I teach maths to students of mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, sport science, computing science, and so much more! Different students will require different types of maths: statistics for sport science and biology, calculus for mechanical and aeronautical engineers, chemists, and physicists, and geometry for civil engineers!
Lecturer of Maths at the University of the West of Scotland
As a lecturer in mathematics, I am responsible for communicating mathematics to a wide range of audiences. The main body of students I lecture to are Mathematics with Education students. They are training to become school teachers of mathematics, and so are required to be educated to degree level in mathematics, and also have a significant amount of experience in school placements.
I also teach mathematics to students studying chemistry, forensic science, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, aeronautical engineering, sport science and psychology. I’ve also previously taught mathematics to students studying electrical and electronic engineering, biology, chiropractic studies and pharmacology.
Mathematics is taught to so many different types of student because it underpins so many scientific and numerical subjects. Consequently, I need to know how these students apply certain areas in mathematics, so that I can make the subject relevant to them.
I’m also involved in applied mathematics research. This often involves using classical mathematics techniques in novel and creative ways to solve problems in engineering and science. I’ve used mathematics to consider research problems in ultrasound, flat screen displays, heat transfer in welding, and improving procedures in maternity hospitals.
People who are mathematically trained are sought after in a multitude of sectors. During my degree, I worked at Ford Motor Company for three months, investigating how to make savings for the company across a range of their supply chain. I didn’t know anything about business or cars back then, but was hired because of my problem solving skills gained during my career.
I also worked for Morgan Stanley in Glasgow. I lead a team of five people responsible for checking the accurancy of the “exotic options” trade reporting in the North America region. We were responsible for highlighting, investigating, and fixing errors in the reporting of every trade done by Morgan Stanley traders on a day-to-day business. Consider this: if the trader books in a trade of selling 5,000 shares at 49p a share, but the financer books in a trade of selling 5,000 shares at £5,000.00 a share (it was a Friday afternoon and mistakes can happen), just how much of an error would have been made on our official books? This is an exampe of a little error having huge consequences if it wasn’t for my team’s activities.
My Typical Day
I'll start work at 8am and prepare for a 9am lecture, making sure I know exactly what I am teaching that morning. If I do not have a class that morning, I'll spend time responding to emails from academics and students, preparing for afternoon teaching activities, attending meetings, or doing research in mathematics. I normally leave work around 6pm, but often do a little more work when I get home.
Every day is different for a lecturer in mathematics, but here was my week last week:
The blue and grey entries are for teaching duties (either preparing or delivering), pink is related to administration and management duties (related to management of the maths group, management of the maths degree, university commitees etc.), orange and yellow is for outreach and professional work (duties for the Scottish Mathematical Council, external examiner duties, and visiting schools), and green is to highlight research related work.
No two weeks are the same and no two days are the same. During term, most of my time is filled with teaching/support related duties and administration of my modules and the degree programme. When the students finish for the year, I get a change to forge ahead with research related work and making changes to modules and the degree programme after reflecting on the success of the previous year.
I enjoy the teaching part of my job the most. Having an opportunity to discuss the applications of mathematics to a variety of students is great fun. I also enjoy visiting schools and showing pupils (and teachers!) just how useful mathematics is, and where it can lead you.
Working with engineers, physicists, biologists and chemists on research projects is great too. You get to meet loads of different types of people in academia, with loads of different problems that they might need a mathematician to help them with!
What I'd do with the prize money
There's a prize involved? I'm not here for a prize - just to tell everyone how useful maths is!
I’m not here for a prize – just to tell everyone how useful maths is!
If I did win a prize, I’d use to travel to a national conference on the teaching and promotion of mathematics. You get some great ideas by listening to other people’s experience from around the world.
What or who inspired you to follow your career?
All of my lecturers seemed to have really cool experiences of using maths to solve a variety of problems.
What's your favourite use for maths in everyday life?
Oh, internet security! Years ago, a mathematician solved an interesting little problem just for fun. Now it is used every day when sending information over the internet!
What did you think about Maths when you were in school?
I liked maths because there was alsways a correct answer, but sometimes more than one way to obtmain that answer!
What did you want to be after you left school?
I had no idea what I wanted to be after leaving school. I just know that I was good at maths and knew that it could open up loads of career paths for me.
Were you ever in trouble at school?
I was the first person in my class to receive a punishment exercise (for chewing gum in class). Turns out that the punishment was 100 maths sums - some punishment!
If you weren't doing this job, what would you choose instead?
Rock star, although I think that my inability to play my bass guitar might be an issue. I'd like to go into people development, helping scientists develop themselves within and outwith academia.
Who is your favourite singer or band?
Rammstein (this week, anyway).
What's your favourite food?
Lasagna (it's not too bad with fake meat!)
What is the most fun thing you've done?
I visited Tokto last year and went on a Mariocart tour around the city, dressed up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!
I'd like more time in the day: there's just so many things I'd like to do and so little time! I'd like to be smarter - I get by with hard work and sometimes it'd be easier to just be that little bit smarter (does that make me lazy?). I'd like to be able to take the advice that I give to others - but it is easier said that done.
Tell us a joke.
Did you hear about the magic tractor? Went down a hill and turned right into a field.