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Fellows Directory

Michael Proctor

Michael Proctor

Professor Michael Proctor FRS


Elected: 2006


Michael Proctor is internationally recognised for his fundamental contributions to nonlinear convection theory and to the understanding of fluid dynamos. With William V. R. Malkus, he was the first to appreciate the role of the backreaction of magnetic field distortion on the mean dynamo flow — the so-called Malkus–Proctor-effect — and showed that the appropriate scaling for geomagnetic equilibration is independent of viscosity.

Michael’s guiding principle is to synthesise predominating dynamical factors into a simple model equation, which can then be studied under a wide variety of conditions to obtain a global view of the generic behaviour of the system under investigation.

With Nigel Weiss, he has made important contributions to the theory of the interaction between magnetic fields and convection in the Sun, and its relation to the formation of sunspots and the solar cycle. With David Hughes, Michael has contributed to the understanding of the mechanisms governing magnetic field generation by convection and the role of large-scale shear flows.

Professional positions

Professor of Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge
Provost, King's College, University of Cambridge
Provost, King's College, University of Cambridge

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Mathematics
    • Applied mathematics and theoretical physics
  • Astronomy and physics
    • Magnetism, Solar physics, Astrophysics
  • Engineering
    • Fluid dynamics
  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geophysics


Magnetic fields, Convection, Dynamo theory , Bifurcation theory

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