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Durham University

Department of Mathematical Sciences

Pascal Lecture

The Blaise Pascal Lecture series has been established following a generous bequest by Mrs Marjorie Roberts in 2006. Each year, the Board of Studies elects a Pascal Fellow from a list of nominees, whose research interests are either in Pure Mathematics or Natural Philosophy (Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics).

The 2020 Pascal Lecture

Dr Nira Chamberlain (President of the IMA)

"The Black Heroes of Mathematics"

4 November 2020, 3:00pm, online

Abstract: The 2017 film, Hidden Figures, is based on the true story of a group of black female mathematicians that served as the brains behind calculating the momentous launch of the NASA astronaut John Glenn into orbit. However, these mathematicians of colour are not the only ‘Hidden Figures’. Nira will discuss other inspirational men and women who overcame obstacles to prove that ‘mathematics is truly for everybody!’


Black History Month, also initially known as the African American History Month, is a month-long tradition of celebrating the achievements of the black community. It began as a way for remembering important people and events in the history of the African diaspora. The event is celebrated every year in October in the UK.

To celebrate the contributions of black role models to the field of mathematical sciences, the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Durham University is pleased to have Dr Nira Chamberlain as our guest speaker, who will be delivering the annual Pascal lecture 2020. He will be speaking on "The Black Heroes of Mathematics’’. The event will be held online on Wednesday 4th November at 3pm.

Dr Nira Chamberlain is the current president of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA). He has more than 25 years of experience of writing mathematical models/simulation algorithms that solve complex industrial problems. He has developed mathematical solutions within many industrial sectors, including spells in France, the Netherlands, Germany and Israel. In 2015 he joined the exclusive list of 30 UK mathematicians who are featured in the autobiographical reference book Who’s Who. He has held visiting positions in many prestigious UK universities.