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Professor David Abrahams


Subjects: Mathematics

I was Director of the Isaac Newton Institute for the Mathematical Sciences (INI) at the University of Cambridge until 2021. INI is one of the principal centres for Mathematical Sciences in the world; its main function is to organise a wide range of long-term programmes in all areas of mathematics which bring together top international researchers. However, it performs many other roles for the benefits of the community, such as providing a venue for early career researchers (ECRs) to meet leaders in their field, acting as a base for interdisciplinary studies across the whole of the sciences, and offering a programme of mathematics communication. It also engages actively in knowledge exchange activities, which are organised through the Newton Gateway to Mathematics.

Over the years I have become increasingly enthusiastic about public engagement activities. I regularly offer mathematics talks of interest to school students and the general public, and with Chris Howls (Southampton University) ran annual ‘Meet the Mathematicians’ events for sixth form students. Chris Budd (Bath University) and I organised a conference in 2010 on ‘How to Talk Maths in Public’, which continues on an annual or biennial basis, and we ran the first UK ‘Festival of Mathematics and its Applications’ in 2014. The latter was part of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications’ 50th anniversary programme, and was an adventurous two-day meeting bringing together academics, mathematicians from outside academe (school teachers, industrialists, mathematicians in the financial sector etc.), and over 1100 school students.

My research interests cover broad areas of applied mathematics, but since graduating in 1982 with a PhD from Imperial College London my main focus has been the theoretical understanding of wave processes. Prior to taking up my current post at Cambridge, I held the Beyer Chair of Applied Mathematics at the University of Manchester, a position occupied from 1885-1923 by Sir Horace Lamb and then subsequently by Sydney Goldstein, Sir James Lighthill and Fritz Ursell amongst others. I have published extensively in the areas of acoustics, fluid/structural interactions, nondestructive evaluation, fracture mechanics, linear and nonlinear elasticity, composite materials modelling, electromagnetism, water waves, aero- and hydro-acoustics and seismology. In recent years my research has diversified somewhat, to areas as diverse as mathematical finance, nonlinear viscoelasticity, melting of debris-covered glaciers, and entrapment of meteorites in Antarctic ice.

College Position

Professorial Fellow

University Position

Professor of Applied Mathematics in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics