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Professor Sarah Hart appointed Gresham Professor of Geometry

Professor Hart is the first woman to hold the esteemed position in its 423-year history.

Professor Sarah Hart
Professor Sarah Hart

Professor Sarah Hart, Professor of Mathematics, will succeed Chris Budd as Gresham Professor of Geometry, a position which is thought to be the oldest Maths Professorship in the UK. Professor Hart will continue the College’s tradition of delivering free public lectures within the City of London and beyond, and in 2020-21 will be lecturing on Mathematics in Music and Writing, part of a three-year exploration of Mathematics, Culture and Creativity.

Professor Hart is an active researcher, publishing mainly in the area of pure mathematics known as group theory, which has many applications both inside and outside of mathematics, for example in coding theory and cryptography. Professor Hart is also Vice-President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics and a keen mathematics communicator, speaking to a wide variety of audiences at numerous public lectures and talks in schools on topics such as mathematics and art. 

Professor Hart said: “I was inspired by Gresham lectures on Mathematics by Christopher Zeeman when I was still at school. I particularly remember being impressed by a talk he gave on the mathematics of dressmaking, which introduced the concepts of topology and geometry in such a clear and entertaining manner. I’ve been attending Gresham events when I can ever since.

“I am incredibly excited to become part of Gresham’s mission of free adult education, helping people become inspired by mathematics, and I’m especially delighted to be the first woman mathematician in this role.”  

Professor Hart studied at Oxford and Manchester, gaining her PhD in 2000. Postdoctoral research and teaching followed, including a prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship, before she was appointed to a lectureship at Birkbeck in 2004. She has been a Professor of Mathematics at the College since 2013. 

By gaining the role, Professor Hart joins a number of major figures in mathematics who have been appointed Gresham Geometry Professors in the past, including Henry Briggs, Robert Hooke, Karl Pearson, Sir Roger Penrose, and John D Barrow.

Sir Richard J Evans, Provost of Gresham College, commented on Professor Hart’s appointment: “Professor Sarah Hart is a great mathematics communicator and we’re delighted she’s joining us as Gresham College’s Professor of Geometry. It’s also an historic moment for the College as she becomes the first woman to be appointed Gresham Professor of Geometry since the chair was established in 1597.”

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