How would you summarise your research?
My research is mainly in group theory, an area of algebra. Groups encode the notion of symmetry in its broadest sense, and are widely applicable throughout mathematics. Since groups act upon various combinatorial structures such as, for example, graphs and simplicial complexes my interests reach into other areas of mathematics.
The study of the finite simple groups - the word simple here does not mean what you might think, these can be very complicated structures - I find to be particularly fascinating. I have written many papers on such groups. For me research is something like a drug – I get withdrawal symptoms if I don’t do any for a while.
What do you enjoy most about teaching?
I very much enjoy supervising PhD students – they keep me young. So far I have supervised 17 PhDs to completion and currently have six PhD students. Also I get an enormous kick out of lecturing and teaching.
To be able to give back to the subject that has given me so much pleasure, and pass something of the beauty and utility of the subject to others, is very rewarding.