Professor Ursula Martin CBE announced as RSE Fellow

20th February 2017


Professor Ursula Martin CBE, Senior Research Fellow in Computer Science at Wadham College, has been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE).

  • Ursula Martin

The RSE prides itself on the breadth of disciplines represented by its Fellowship, and she joins a select group of outstanding academics and celebrated professionals.  This range of expertise enables the Society to take part in a host of activities, such as providing independent and expert advice to Government and Parliament, supporting aspiring entrepreneurs through mentorship, facilitating education programmes for young people and engaging the general public through educational events.

New Fellows are elected each year through a rigorous five-stage nomination process. President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, of Oxford’s Department of Physics, commented, “Each newly elected Fellow has been nominated on their exceptional and extensive achievements; it is a great honour to welcome such outstanding individuals to the Fellowship. In joining the RSE Fellowship, they will strengthen the Society’s capacity to advance excellence across all areas of public life, in Scotland and further afield."

Ursula Martin holds an EPSRC Fellowship in the Department of Computer Science and the Mathematics Institute. She joined Oxford in 2014 from Queen Mary University of London, where she served as Vice-Principal, having worked previously at the University of St Andrews as their first female professor in any discipline.  Her research in algebra, logic and computer science, in particular the deployment of novel logic software in defence applications, has led to many grants and industry collaborations.  Current research includes the empirical study of the practice of mathematics long term collaboration with Univerities of Edinburgh and Dundee), mathematics policy and the impact of mathematics, and the history of mathematics and computer science, in particular pioneering work on the mathematics of Ada Lovelace.

Her recent work with professional research evaluator Laura Meagher looks at the processes by which very abstract and rarefied mathematics leads to very concrete and significant outcomes.  Mathematics’ impact in every walk of life is astounding. Deloitte estimate that 10% of all UK jobs and 16% of total UK GDP is a direct result of mathematics. The key is human interaction, long term relationships and close working with other disciplines and end users.  

They point to the many varieties of impact, both the deep conceptual work that can reshape a whole field, and the detailed deployment of that work in a specific problem domain, both mathematical and beyond.  

Their work reinforces the crucial role of universities in developing a culture supportive of impact generation which reinforces the distinctive but all-pervasive nature of mathematics, a discipline that is underpinning and influencing so many of the scientific, technological and social questions we are asking of our world.  And they draw attention to the importance of telling the stories of impact in new ways so as to open up the richness and power of mathematics in new domains.