Department of Mathematics
The Celebrating Mathematicians concept was born out of the department's work in Equality and Good Practice. The department aims to highlight prominent Mathematicians, both locally and around the world. Our A Celebration of Mathematicians page highlights other academics featured.
“Mathematics is indisputably the greatest subject in the world! Why? Because it is the language of the world. Mathematics crosses racial, geographical and cultural boundaries”
Dr Nira Chamberlain is a British mathematician and chartered scientist based in Birmingham. He is a Principal Consultant at SNC-Lavalin, and in 2020 became the President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. He is also a member of the European Mathematical Society and the Operational Research Society.
Born in Birmingham in 1969, Chamberlain enjoyed mathematics at school but was not actively encouraged by his teachers. Despite this, he went on to study at Coventry Polytechnic and graduated with a BSc in Mathematics in 1991. He continued his studies at Loughborough University, where he achieved an MSc in Industrial Mathematical Modelling in 1993. In 2014 Chamberlain completed a PhD at Portsmouth University, under the supervision of Professor Andrew Osbaldestin entitled “Extension of gambler’s ruin problem played over networks”.
Chamberlain has worked all over the world helping industries such as defence, aerospace, automotive and energy sectors solve complex industrial problems using mathematical modelling. He created a mathematical cost capability trade-off for HMS Queen Elizabeth, modelling the lifetime running costs of aircraft carriers versus operating budgets. This example of mathematics in the real world was cited in the Encyclopedia of Mathematics and Society. Chamberlain is one of only a few British Mathematicians to feature in this.
In 2012, Chamberlain was involved with the UK STEM Project “Being a Professional Mathematician” where his interview was selected for an iTunes podcast. He was named as one of the UK’s top scientists in 2014 by the Science Council. Only five mathematicians were selected for this accolade.
Chamberlain is an active public speaker debating the relevance of mathematics in everyday life and discussing its significance in human achievements. In 2017, he was a keynote speaker at the New Scientist workshop “The Mathematical World”. One of his most notable lectures titled “The Mathematics that can stop an Al apocalypse” took place at the Maxwell Society in 2019.
Chamberlain was awarded the title of “World's Most Interesting Mathematician” in 2018, winning the Big Internet Maths Off - an international mathematical communication tournament voted for by the general public.
Chamberlain is of Jamaican parentage, and campaigns for greater diversity within the mathematical sciences. He makes regular appearances in UK media and is a BBC expert voice. He also frequently gives talks in UK state schools, through the charity Speakers for Schools. His talk on “The Black Heroes of Mathematics" has proved to be influential and popular throughout the UK and was repeated during Black History Month.
In 2015, Chamberlain became the first Black mathematician to join the exclusive list of living British mathematicians to feature in the biographical reference book Who’s Who, which contains information on more than 33,000 influential people from around the world.
Furthermore in 2016, Chamberlain submitted his own mathematical biography as requested by the Black Cultural Archives, parts of which were published in Mathematics Today.
Chamberlain was the highest new entrant at number five in the 2018 Powerlist, an annual publication celebrating the most influential British people from African and Carribean heritage. He is the first Mathematician to be included in the publication, and was also included in the 2019, 2020, and 2021 editions.
Nirachamberlain.com, Wikipedia, The Aperiodical, BBC.co.uk, Speakers For Schools.org, Imperial.ac.uk