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Published: 03 October 2013

University appoints Professor Peter Hydon as Head of Mathematics

Professor Peter Hydon recently took up the reins of Surrey’s Department of Mathematics.

With over 15 years’ experience at Surrey – having joined the University as a Lecturer in 1996 – Professor Hydon has a strong vision for the Department of Mathematics, and a number of goals in his sights.

“Surrey is an excellent place for mathematicians; we have people who are world-class in their fields, working in a friendly and cooperative environment,” says Professor Hydon. “However, we don’t have a long history of eminence. As we are now well-known internationally, one of my priorities will be to increase our engagement nationally, in line with our peers. In particular, I would like Surrey to organise more events for the UK maths and theoretical physics communities, and to be fully involved with the relevant national bodies.”

Professor Hydon believes that a distinctive feature of Surrey’s Department of Mathematics is that its work often crosses boundaries – between pure and applied mathematics, or between mathematics and another subject. “Our applied mathematicians have found it immensely valuable to talk with people from other disciplines, through initiatives such as MILES (Models and Mathematics in Life and Social Sciences). Interdisciplinary research is not easy, but it has been an area of spectacular growth for us over the last few years.”

This interdisciplinary theme extends to teaching, with undergraduate programmes such as Mathematics with Music and Financial Mathematics. A new joint programme with Economics is also being developed this year.

The Department of Mathematics is highly rated for student satisfaction: in the National Student Survey, it has achieved an average of 93 per cent over the past three years and 97 per cent in the latest survey. Professional Training placements are a major component of students’ experience at Surrey, and Professor Hydon will be aiming to build further links with industry in order to expand placement opportunities. “Students are increasingly aware of the importance of work experience as they enter the job market,” he says. “As well as improving their employability, students who have had professional placements often do very well in the final year of their degree programmes.”

Professor Hydon’s own career in mathematics began as a mature student at the University of Bath. He thinks that his previous experience – working with youth groups and in the hospitality industry – has been a surprisingly good preparation for his subsequent career. Having taken a BSc in Mathematics at Bath, he went on to study for a PhD at the University of Cambridge. After three years’ postdoctoral work at the University of Leeds, he spent two years in a research post at the University of Northumbria before coming to Surrey.

Professor Hydon’s main area of research uses geometrical features such as symmetry to understand and simplify differential equations and their discrete counterparts (difference equations).  He is the author of ‘Symmetry Methods for Differential Equations: A Beginner’s Guide’, a popular introductory text on the subject. He is also known for his work on mathematical physiology, which uses mathematical models to describe the flow and transport of fluids in the human body.

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