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 2019

Thursday 10th January, 9:30-15:30, Lancaster University Management School Lecture Theatre 1

Provisional Timetable

  • 09.30-10.00: Registration
  • 10.00-10.50: Introduction and talk by Dr Rhian Davies (Digitalrail, Lancaster University), The data detective
      • Humans are notoriously bad at dealing with randomness and probabilities - we ignore the obvious and see patterns in the ordinary. As a statistician, it's Rhian's job to decide whether differences in data are due to chance or a real underlying cause. Rhian will tell stories of real projects she has worked on from predicting your personality to analysing your deodorant and discuss the pitfalls that we as humans often struggle with when it comes to randomness.
  • 10.50-11.10: Refreshments
  • 11.10-12.20: Maths quiz!
  • 12.20-13.00: Lunch
  • 13.00-13.45: Talk by Dr Stephanie Yardley (University of St Andrews), Our Explosive Sun
      • The close proximity of our Sun provides us with a unique opportunity to study its evolution in spectacular detail. The Sun is generally described as an ordinary star however, this giant ball of hot plasma possesses a strong magnetic field and regularly throws out huge eruptions, which race across the Solar System and greatly impact the Earth. These eruptions can not only cause dazzling displays of aurora but are also responsible for hazardous space weather conditions at Earth. In this talk I will summarise our current understanding of the sun, including the active and dynamic nature of the solar atmosphere, and the many problems that remain unsolved despite the wealth of high resolution data available from ground-based and space-borne telescopes.
  • 13.45-14.00: Results and prizes of the maths quiz, break
  • 14.00-14.45: Dr Isobel Falconer (University of St Andrews), Women in the History of Mathematics - Known and Unknown
      • Women have always done mathematics - perhaps not so many as men - but we don't always hear about them, and when we do their accomplishments are often played down. My talk traces a number of female mathematicians from antiquity to the 21st-century; some are well-known, some are very obscure. I consider what they did mathematically, what enabled them to succeed, and why we do or do not know about them today.
  • 14.45-15.00: Closing comments, thank you gifts and feedback
  • 15.00-15.30: Maths ramble (information stands and informal discussions)

Dr Rhian Davies

Rhian works as a data scientist for Digital Rail, a consultancy company providing big data analytics for the railway. Rhian has worked as a data scientist for the last 3 years having graduated with a PhD in Statistics from Lancaster University. She is a statistical ambassador for the Royal Statistical Society, engaging with schools and the public to help improve statistical literacy. She organises R-Ladies Lancaster, a local coding meet-up encouraging women to developing their R programming skills.

Rhian Davies
Stephanie Yardley

Dr Stephanie Yardley

Stephanie is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow based in the Solar & Magnetospheric Theory Group in the School of Mathematics & Statistics. Previously, she completed a PhD in Solar Physics at the Department of Space and Climate Physics based at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey. Stephanie’s research focuses on combining solar observations and models to try and understand the evolution and eruption of the Sun’s magnetic field. Alongside her research, she is one of the co-founders of the Early Career Women’s Network at the University of St Andrews and is also a champion for Women In Science at St Andrews. She is also actively involved in outreach, regularly gives talks to schools and the general public, and often presents an astronomy lecture series on board various cruise ships.

Dr Isobel Falconer

Isobel Falconer is a Reader in the History of Mathematics at the University of St Andrews. She believes strongly that the history of mathematics can build bridges between mathematics, mathematicians, and wider culture. History can link mathematicians to their discipline’s past, inspire people to become mathematicians, and engage the public in appreciation of mathematics. Her own research is into the relations between maths and physics in the nineteenth century, and the interaction of both with the cultural context. She also encourages undergraduate research. One collaborative project with half a dozen undergraduate research interns traces the social backgrounds and careers of early female maths students at St Andrews around 1900. Another, with an undergraduate Laidlaw Scholar, is establishing a corpus of accounts by ordinary people in the past of how they experienced mathematical ideas, what their reactions were, and how they used them.

Away from the university, Isobel is a Council member of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, and an Executive Committee Member of the International Commission on the HIstory of Mathematics.

Isobel Falconer

Previous events

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