Being a professional mathematician

Lead name:
Tony Mann
Collaborating Institutions:
University of Birmingham
Funding call:
Maths strand - £10,000
Programme contact:
Institute of Mathematics and its Applications
This project will produce a set of case studies on working mathematicians and the development of mathematics in history to help develop students' awareness of the practices of being a professional mathematician. The focus is on developing resources that are useful to the HE curriculum and providing advice on how to use these.
Project Aims

Concerned that an undergraduate student of mathematics would not be able to articulate what it meant to be a professional mathematician, the HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit (Rowlett, P., ed, 2011, HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit. MSOR Network) made a recommendation: Develop a collection of teaching resources on the development of mathematics - stories from history and more recent development of the discipline.


These should aim to counter a view of mathematics as a static, completed body of knowledge and instead encourage awareness of the process of doing mathematics.


They should develop students’ awareness of the culture of mathematics.


This project will address this aim.

Project Objectives

This project will produce a set of case studies on “being a mathematician”. Some will be historical, some based on interviews with present-day mathematicians (statisticians, OR practitioners) in academia and industry.


These materials will be piloted and guidance and suggestions produced as to how they could be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum.


A workshop for potential users will be organised.

Project Outputs

A range of freely available electronic resources, together with guidelines and suggestions as to how they could be incorporated into the undergraduate curriculum and a workshop for potential users.


The resources will comprise case studies on what it means, or has meant in the past, to be a mathematician (in the widest sense of the term, including practitioners of statistics and OR), how mathematicians are supported by institutions and colleagues, and how they disseminate thier work.


Case studies of (perhaps) twelve representative mathematicians - eight contemporary (four academics and four in industry) and four historical.

Project Outcomes

Lecturers will be supported to develop in their students a sense of what it means to be a professional mathematician. The community will benefit from resources which address a need identified by the HE Mathematics Curriculum Summit.

Contact Tony Mann