We are delighted to announce that the IMA-LMS 2020 Christopher Zeeman Medal has been awarded by the Councils of both societies to Matt Parker. The Christopher Zeeman Medal is the UK award dedicated to recognising excellence in the communication of mathematics. The following citation describes Matt’s exceptional work in this field.
There are few people in history who have done more to improve the public perception of the subject, and few alive who have a wider reach or who have done more to support other mathematics communicators.
Matt’s Stand-up Maths YouTube channel has half a million subscribers and his videos across YouTube have over 100 million views. In 2011 Matt helped establish the Numberphile YouTube channel which is now one of the most successful YouTube channels with over 3 million subscribers.
In 2019 Matt’s book “Humble Pi” (Penguin Random House, 2019) was the first ever maths book to be a Sunday Times #1 best-seller. His previous book “Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension” (Penguin Random House, 2014) won the Euler Book Prize awarded by the Mathematical Association of America.
After working as a secondary school maths teacher for several years Matt continues to work closely with schools. In 2009 he founded Think Maths, an organisation that trains maths speakers and provides talks, workshops and free resources to schools across the UK. Think Maths provides stable work for new maths communicators and the office provides admin and logistical support to other maths programmes; including the distribution of the Chalkdust magazine.
Since 2009 Matt has worked with Rob Eastaway in helping to develop the Maths Inspiration programme, which reached 12,500 school students last year alone. Matt plays an important role in identifying and developing new speakers with the aim of increasing representation and diversity of maths role models. For example, in 2019 Yolanda Ohene and Mithuna Yoganathan did their first talks at Matt’s monthly comedy night “An Evening of Unnecessary Detail” and then went on to develop that talk for Maths Inspiration. In 2017 Matt worked with Simon Singh to hold the first UK final of the secondary school competition ‘Who Wants to be a Mathematician’, the winner of which goes on to compete in the USA final. He has hosted the subsequent UK finals for the competition.
In 2008 Matt founded MathsJam, a wildly popular meet-up for maths enthusiasts that now runs in 100 cities around the world. Along with Katie Steckles, Matt has also run regular mass-participation mathematics activities for the general public. In 2014, Matt developed and ran the world-wide ‘MegaMenger’ project which involved schools, universities and the general public across fourteen different countries.
In 2011 Matt started Maths Gear: an online maths store that turns theoretical maths research into toys and puzzles that have a wide appeal. Products includes the famous non-transitive Grime Dice and the 4D puzzle Dodecaplex.
Matt also regularly writes and presents programmes on BBC Radio 4 (Domestic Science) and the Discovery Channel (Outrageous Acts of Science). He has written for newspapers from The Guardian to The Express and popped up doing maths on QI. In 2019 he worked with the BBC to produce “The Maths Show”, a series of videos designed to help GCSE maths revision.
Matt was the Public Engagement in Mathematics Fellow at Queen Mary University of London from 2009 to 2019 where he trained academics and undergraduates to communicate mathematics. He worked with Professor Peter McOwan to develop free resources for schools to use magic tricks to teach mathematics.
This is not an exhaustive list of Matt’s achievements. Over the past decade he has brought maths to hundreds of millions of people while still being an active member of the maths communication community and goes out of his way to support new members.