Pioneering statistician Florence Nightingale

Florence Nightingale Day

The Florence Nightingale Days are part of our continuing efforts to promote mathematics and statistics and especially the participation of women in those subjects.

The Florence Nightingale Days are part of our continuing efforts to promote mathematics and statistics to young women in years 10 and above, who will soon be making crucial choices in their career paths. The Florence Nightingale Day will showcase successful women in mathematics at various stages of their careers, display information about the broad range of possibilities offered by a degree in mathematics or statistics, stimulate informal discussion between pupils and mathematicians and give an opportunity for participants to compare their mathematical skills with their peers in other schools via a quiz.

While Florence Nightingale is well-known for her medical work as a nurse, she was also a pioneer in statistics, especially in the use of visualisation of statistical data. A description of this work may be found in her biography on the MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, along with a large number of biographies of other female mathematicians.

Florence Nightingale Day 2022

Thursday 13th January, 10:00-15:00, Lancaster Management School (Lecture Theatre 1 and break-out rooms LT2/3)

If you are interested in attending, please contact Professor Nadia Mazza (

Provisional Timetable

  • 09.30-10.00: Registration
  • 10.00-10.05: Introduction
  • 10.05-10.50: Talk 1 - Dr Raquel Coelho Simoes (Lancaster University), "Counting: Catalan numbers everywhere"
    • Certain mathematical objects make a habit of occurring in many different contexts. One example is given by Catalan numbers, which appear in over a hundred different counting problems in combinatorics, as well as in graph theory, computer science and even sports events. In this talk we will discover Catalan numbers by exploring some of these problems, which may include triangulations of polygons, ballot papers and “noncrossing handshaking" at a party.
  • 10.50-11.10: Refreshments
  • 11.10-12.20: Maths quiz!
  • 12.20-13.00: Lunch break
  • 13.00-13.45: Talk 2 - Dr Jenny Wadsworth (Lancaster University), "What is a 1-in-1000 year flood anyway? The mathematics of extreme events"
    • Following a very severe weather event, we often hear reports to the effect that this was, for example, a "once in a thousand year event". But given that we do not have reliable data collection stemming back to the middle ages, where do such figures come from? The answer is extreme value theory, a branch of probability and statistics dealing with rare events. I will give an overview of some of the key ideas of the theory of extremes, and how this allows us to estimate very rare event probabilities from the limited data available.
  • 13.45-14.00: Results of the quiz and prizes; break
  • 14.00-14.45: Talk 3 - Dr Danielle Bewsher (University of Central Lancashire),"What is a mathematician?"
    • In this presentation, I will talk about what it is that makes a mathematician and how a broad range of people from different backgrounds can be mathematicians. I’ll also look at what mathematicians do, and how the Institute of Mathematics and Its Applications (one of the professional bodies for maths in the UK) can help you.
  • 14.45-15.00: Closing comments, thank you gifts and feedback
  • 15.00-15.30: Maths ramble (information stands and informal discussions)

Dr Raquel Coelho Simoes

Before coming to Lancaster as a Marie Curie Fellow and later lecturer in Mathematics, Raquel studied in Lisbon, did her PhD in Leeds and worked in Germany and Portugal. Raquel’s research interests lie in representation theory and combinatorics. Representation theory is the study of structures in mathematics via their “shadows” on simpler structures. Problems in representation theory can often be transformed into combinatorics, giving a discrete picture of complicated phenomena.

Dr Raquel Coelho Simoes
Jenny Wadsworth

Dr Jenny Wadsworth

Jenny is currently a Senior Lecturer in Statistics at Lancaster University. She has degrees from Durham and Lancaster, and worked in Switzerland and Cambridge before returning to Lancaster as a lecturer. Her main research interest is in the statistics of extreme events, which constitutes a diverse mix of interesting mathematical theory and fascinating applications.

Dr Danielle Bewsher

Danielle is a Principal Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Central Lancashire. Before joining UCLan, Danielle was a solar physicist at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, where she calibrated data from the STEREO Heliospheric Imagers, and used the data to do research into stellar variability. Prior to that she was an ESA External Research Fellow working at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Danielle Bewsher

Previous events

You can find information about previous years' Florence Nightingale Days here: