Reflections on a career in the School - Dr Andy baker retires

Monday 2nd October, 2017

A few thoughts on my time in Glasgow

I was appointed to the Mathematics Department in 1990, but started in 1991 (I had a 5 year EPSRC Advanced Fellowship in Manchester and was persuaded to give it up after two years to start teaching here - nowadays that probably wouldn't happen!). Incidentally, I had already overlapped with Adrian Bowman in Manchester for a few years.

My time here has been a wonderful quarter century. The teaching and administration culture in Glasgow taught me a lot and allowed me to develop that side of my mathematical life working with people like Jon Nimmo and Colin McGregor. The last few years have been unusual as I taught a lot of courses at honours level (compared to most of my time here) and I was able to develop several courses at high level on topics I really enjoy, and get to know some extremely strong undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to do phds. Several sets of notes I produced out of courses have been available on the internet and seem to be well used both for individual study and for other people's courses (bizarrely a French university used my notes for a course on Galois theory).

On the research side I have always been very happy with a broad range of mathematical expertise to interact with in the School. Although officially I am an algebraic topologist, I had a lot in common with number theorists such as Bob Odoni and algebraists such as Uli Kraehmer. Although I never actually wrote any joint papers with people in the School the environment was a source of useful interaction. Phd students (not just my own) have also been a great source of knowledge and opportunity to discuss and discover mathematics.

Over the years I organised numerous conferences and other meetings and hosted many visitors. Glasgow undoubtedly provides an attractive environment for those activities, and many visitors have expressed their appreciation of the facilities and the city. Starting with one here in 2002, I was involved in a series of specialist conferences which were widely known by names of the form `Glasgow X' where X got up to about 6 I think
(the last was in Manchester!). My first Glasgow conference in 1992 was organised on a budget of less than £1000 and amongst the participants were Robert Rankin, John
Leech (of the lattice), John McKay (of Moonshine and the Correspondence), Koichiro
Harada and Simon Norton (of the simple group).

To sum up, being here for 26 years has been a wonderful part of my life, and Glasgow and Scotland have become my home (I never lived anywhere else for so long) and I look forward to continuing my mathematical connections here albeit in a less formal form. And I still have half the Munros to climb...