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Fellows Directory

Christopher Zeeman

Christopher Zeeman

Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS


Elected: 1975


Erik Christopher ‘Chris’ Zeeman was a mathematician renowned for his work in topology and in catastrophe theory. He pioneered application of the latter in biological and behavioural sciences, contributing valuable insights in topics as diverse as evolution, anorexia, committee behaviour, economics and drama.

He was recognised as a pioneer in the area of public engagement with mathematics. Many cite Chris’s 1978 Royal Institution Christmas Lectures as inspiring their interest in mathematics. The lectures spawned many activities engaging school pupils and the public generally with mathematics. The Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) and the London Mathematical Society (LMS) established the Christopher Zeeman Medal to build on this legacy.

In 1964, Chris founded the University of Warwick’s mathematics department. He was knighted in 1991 for “mathematical excellence and service to British mathematics and mathematics education”. In 2006, the IMA and LMS awarded him the David Crighton Medal in similar recognition.

Sir Christopher Zeeman FRS died on 13 February 2016.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Mathematics
    • Pure mathematics, Applied mathematics and theoretical physics
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science


  • Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture

    For the contributions he has made to the popularization of mathematics.

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