The College is delighted at the news that one of its Fellows, the celebrated mathematician Professor Sir Andrew Wiles, has been appointed by Her Majesty the Queen to be Oxford’s first Regius Professor of Mathematics.
Commenting on the announcement, the Warden, Sir Martin Taylor, said:
"Yet again, Merton finds itself enormously proud of Sir Andrew Wiles! It is both a remarkable and historic achievement to be the first ever Regius Professor in Mathematics at Oxford. The College offers him our warmest congratulations."
The Regius Professorship – a rare, sovereign-granted title – was granted to Oxford’s Mathematical Institute as part of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations. It is the first Regius Professorship awarded to Oxford since 1842.
Sir Andrew is renowned worldwide for his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem. In 2016 he was awarded the highest honour in mathematics, the Abel Prize, for his stunning proof of the theorem, a conundrum that had stumped humankind for 350 years. In recognition of this transformative work, he was also awarded the Copley medal, the Royal Society’s oldest and most prestigious award.
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, said:
"I know my colleagues join me in offering our warmest congratulations to Sir Andrew on being named Oxford’s newest Regius Professor. It is a fitting recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of mathematics."
Professor Martin Bridson, Head of Oxford’s Mathematical Institute, added:
"The award of the Regius Professorship to Oxford recognised both our pre-eminence in fundamental research and the enormous benefits that flow to society from mathematics.
"It is entirely fitting that the first holder of this Professorship should be Sir Andrew Wiles. Nobody exemplifies the relentless pursuit of mathematical understanding in the service of mankind better than him. His dedication to solving problems that have defied mankind for centuries, and the stunning beauty of his solutions to these problems, provide a beacon to inspire and sustain everyone who wrestles with the fundamental challenges of mathematics and the world around us. We are immensely proud to have Andrew as a colleague at the Mathematical Institute in Oxford."
The new Regius Professorship in Mathematics was one of a dozen announced by the government to celebrate the increasingly important role of academic research in driving growth and improving productivity during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. The creation of Regius Professorships falls under the Royal Prerogative, and each appointment is approved by the monarch on ministerial advice.
Sir Andrew’s father, Maurice Wiles, was Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford from 1970 to 1991.