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Research at St Andrews

Isobel Jessie Falconer


Isobel Jessie Falconer
Postal address:
School of Mathematics and
North Haugh
St Andrews
United Kingdom


Direct phone: +44 (0)1334 463743

Research overview

Personal website (including preprints of some papers not available below):

Most of my research is into the relationship between maths and physics in the 19th century, and the interaction of both with the wider cultural context. I am exploring some of these as cases of epistemic injustice. A current interest is into the development of the gravitational constant (G). which was introduced in the late 19th century as ideas changed about how to express Newton's law of gravitation mathematically. Today it is taken for granted, but its introduction was controversial as its physical meaning was unclear.  This picks up on articles I published in the 1990s.

I support work on the MacTutor archive of mathematicians developed by my colleagues Edmund Robertson and John O’Connor. In 2019-20 I led an EPSRC-funded project to migrate MacTutor to a new, sustainable and more robust platform.

I am an experienced supervisor at Masters and PhD level: recently I have been supervising projects in 17th/18th century Scottish mathematics, and female mathematicians at St Andrews around 1900. Together with Beth Barlow, an undergraduate Laidlaw Scholar, I am developing a corpus of accounts of the way ordinary people in the past encountered, reacted to, and used, mathematical ideas; this will be available in rdf form for data linking.

I am an executive committee member of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics, elected by the International Mathematical Union. I am a Council member of the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

I taught part time for the UK Open University for over 30 years. For 8 years I juggled teaching and history of mathematics research with educational research into open educational resources.


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