Published: 03 March 2015

Meteorology expert becomes Head of Department of Mathematics

Professor Ian Roulstone brings a strong external research background and a keen interest in social engagement to the role of Head of Mathematics at Surrey.

Beginning in his new role on 1 March 2015, Professor Roulstone’s vision for the Department of Mathematics is to continue growing student numbers, increase collaboration with other disciplines, and focus research efforts on key areas where the Department excels.

Professor Roulstone joined the University of Surrey in 2004, having previously spent 15 years with the government’s Met Office, latterly leading a joint research centre with Reading University.

“This experience gave me a useful network of contacts across bodies such as EPSRC (the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, NERC (the Natural Environment Research Council) and the Environment Aid Agency, which have proved very useful in my work at Surrey,” he commented.

“The landscape of research is changing, with Research Councils starting to award substantial sums of money to collaborative projects with large societal impact. It’s essential that we are part of a strong research network.”

Professor Roulstone believes that ‘big data’ will be one of the fields where Surrey can make a significant contribution.

“We can play a key role at the interface between data modelling and prediction. All too often people come up with a paradigm and use it as a basis for furthering science, but it’s important to define the most relevant variables. We’ve long been known for our dynamical systems theory and are therefore well-placed to help policy makers make better use of data modelling systems.”

“This will be a significant area of expertise in the development of 5G, the next generation mobile communications network – which is obviously an area close to Surrey’s heart with the opening of the 5G Innovation Centre on campus.”

Professor Roulstone is keen to support the Department’s talented young academic team, recognising that they will be shaping the future of mathematics at Surrey. With researchers facing increasing pressures today in terms of teaching and administration, he believes that it is vital to ring-fence research time in order to enable these academics to submit grant applications and fulfil research grants won.

He is also dedicated to maintaining the high standards of teaching and learning within Surrey’s Department of Mathematics. In the annual National Student Survey the Department consistently achieves over 90 per cent student satisfaction, with a near-perfect score of 97 per cent recorded in 2013 for ‘satisfaction with course’.

Professor Roulstone said, “One of the factors that helps us attract top students is our Professional Training placement scheme, which is founded on our close contacts with prestigious organisations, and we will be building this further.”

He added, “In the future, one of our key initiatives will be to develop our Masters programmes.”

Professor Roulstone also plans to continue his work in public engagement, showcasing his research on the use of mathematical modelling in weather prediction to audiences outside the world of academia. In addition to regular postings on the Huffington Post, he recently gave talks to sixth formers at events organised by The Training Partnership, and will take part in the British Science Festival in Bradford in September.


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