Mathematics
Ireland

The Atlas of Irish Mathematics: Down (Oct 2019)

We head up to Down for our 15th Irish region focussed blog, following previous ones on people associated with Donegal, Wexford, Armagh, Limerick, Westmeath, Mayo, Belfast, Wicklow, Kerry, Galway, Monaghan, Tipperary, Sligo and Carlow.

Of course Belfast itself (like Lisburn a few miles to the southwest) straddles two counties, Antrim and Down, and this poses challenges if we insist in strict separation by county.  Over 70 people from the 19th century associated with Belfast have already been documented, and the much larger number from 1900 to the present day will be surveyed here in due course. 

Many Queen's Belfast students and staff have studied and worked in Antrim while living across the Lagan in Down, as evidenced by the 1901 and 1911 censuses, for instance.  Below we largely focus on those born and/or raised in the county Down who were not "city people".  This has the disadvantage of excluding those affiliated with East Belfast's Campbell College (founded 1894).

Some of the names that have come to light are non-academics who sent mathematical problems or solutions to The Educational Times, listing addresses in Down.  In a few cases very little is known about these people, but they seem to have been keen amateurs with modest educational backgrounds.

There are other people with more tenuous (nor non-mathematical) Down connections not highlighted in what follows.  For instance, Edward Smith (1662?-1729) from Antrim was a Donegall Lecturer in Maths (1694-1696, and later pro-chancellor) at TCD before becoming Bishop of Down & Clogher.  In very recent times, Cork-born Patrick Walsh from Belfast (who has two master's, one in group theory from QUB in 1962) has served as bishop of Down & Connor.

Belfast teacher James McNeill (1853-1906) was educated at Queen's College (BSc 1877) and ended his career at Campbell College.  Londonderry's William Allison (1866-1923) was also educated at Queen's (BA 1888), and taught at Campbell School from 1896 until his death.  Monaghan's J. Max Henry (1887?-1947) went to Campbell College before attending (and later serving on the staff at) TCD.

Enniskillen-born William Davis (1889-1965, NUI BSc 1910 via Blackrock College) was teaching in Newry in 1911, but spent most of his career elsewhere as a tax surveyor.

Waterford-born Nobel laureate Ernest Walton (1903-1995), whose MSc thesis in hydrodynamics was done at TCD under J. L. Synge, spent some of his youth in Banbridge, Down (he later went to Methody in Belfast).

As already discussed in the earlier Belfast blog, in 1882, numerous "unearned" MA degrees were awarded by Queen's College, Belfast, just before its transition from a constituent college of Queen's University of Ireland to Queens University Belfast (the other QUI colleges in Galway and Cork joining UCD as the Royal University of Ireland).  One recipient indicated below did not express surprise at this development, as he had already met his demise a full decade earlier.

Comments and corrections are, as always, welcome. As are more photographs of the forgotten faces from the past: we only have pictures for 25% of the people featured this time around.  Last updated 4 Nov 2019.

Thanks to Olivia Bree (St Pat's, Drumcondra) once more for considerable genealogical assistance.

 

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 1. Richard Murray (1725?-1799) was born in Down and was educated at TCD (BA 1747, MA 1750).  He spent his entire career there, serving as Donegall Lecturer (1762-1764) and Erasmus Smith's prof of maths (1764-1795).  He was also the librarian and provost.  He authored the book Artis logicæ compendium (1773), which was translated in 1852 as Murray's Compendium of Logic.

Wikipedia / TCD

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 2. James Thomson (1786-1849) was born 13 November in Annaghdown near Ballynahinch, Down.  He was educated at the University of Glasgow (MA 1812) and was professor (and eventually provost) there following 2 decades at the Belfast Academical Institution.  He authored 4 books while teaching in Belfast, and later An Elementary Treatise on Algebra Theoretical and Practical (1844).  His son William (later known as Lord Kelvin) grew up in Belfast and Glasgow and gained fame as a brilliant scientist, mathematician, and engineer.

Wikipedia / MacTutor / Glasgow / Ulster Bio

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 3. Cornelius Denvir (1791-1866) was born 13 August in Ballywalter, Down, and was educated at Maynooth.  Upon ordination, he succeeded Abbé Darré on the staff
there, teaching theology and maths.  Later, he taught classics and maths at the New Down and Connor Diocesan College, and became Lord Bishop of Down and Connor.

Wikipedia / CH

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 4. Guomen "Pas" Linton (??-??) was born in Knockbreda, Down. He is said to have taught maths at Queen's College, Belfast, circa 1850.

Linton

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 5. John Kells Ingram (1823-1907) was born 7 July in Templecarne, Pettigo, Donegal, and was brought up there and in Newry, Down. He was educated at TCD (BA 1842, MA 1850), where he excelled in maths, both as a student and early in his long career there. He has been co-credited with introducing the geometric concept of inversion in a circle. He was professor of oratory and Greek, and rose to the rank of vice provost. He is remembered today as an economist and as a poet; indeed he penned "The Memory of the Dead" (aka "Who Fears to Speak of '98"). Also, as the librarian at TCD, it was he who first had the Book of Kells put on public display.

Wikipedia / DUB / Biblio / Enc Brit / TCD / 1901 Census

 

 6. Patrick Doyle (1820-1913) was born in Finnis, Dromara, Down.  Nothing is known about his education.  He taught at Aughlisnfin National School, near Castlewellan, and then for 4 decades at Ballyphillip National School, Portaferry.  He interacted with William Thomson (Kelvin) on a mathematical matter. [Thanks for Colum O'Hare.]

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Obit

 

 7. Samuel Gunning (1836-1911) was born 17 March in Donagahadee, Down.  Nothing is known about his education, and while his career was spent as a bank manager (in Londonderry and Cookstown), he contributed maths to the Educational Times.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Edu Times

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 8. George McWatters (1841-1891) was born in Down and was educated at Queen's College, Belfast (BA 1860, MA 1882 by exam).  His career was spent in the civil service in India.

Grave

 9. William Stoops (1844?-1919) was born in Castleblayney, Monaghan, and was educated at Queen's College Cork (BSc 1874).  At first he taught at the Coleraine Academic Institute, then in 1881 he became the headmaster at the Newry Intermediate School, Down, where he stayed until 1917.  He contributed to the Educational Times.

Obit 1 / Obit 2 / Edu Times / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

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10. Samuel Fleming (1846?-1872) was born in Downpatrick, Down. He was educated at Queen's Belfast (BSc 1865, MA 1882!!), and spent his very short career as a clergyman.  

Grave

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11. John Young (1848?-1914) was born in Donoughmore, near Newry, Down, and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA & Gold Medal 1868, MA 1882). For many years he taught at the Londonderry Academical Institution, then from 1888 until his death he ran the Portadown News in Armagh.  He contributed to the Educational Times.

Bio / Death / Edu Times 1893 / Edu Times 1900 / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

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12. John Gordon (1849-1922) was born 23 November in Shankhill, Down, and was educated at Queen's College, Galway (BSc 1873, LLB 1876, LLD 1882). His career was spent in law and politics, and he served briefly as Attorney General of Ireland.

Wikipedia / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

 

13. Thomas Graham (1853?-??) was born somewhere, but nothing is known about his education.  In 1876 he was resident in Kilkeel, Down, when he contributed to the Educational Times.

Edu Times

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14. William Lowe (1853-1931) was born near Ballinahinch, Down.  He was educated at Queen's College, Galway (BSc 1880, MSc 1881, LLD), where was a senior scholar.  His career was spent as a notable clergyman.

Church / Obit / 1901 Census / 1911 Census

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15. James Rea (1857?-1933) was born in Down and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1885).  He spent his career teaching at Dublin's Church of Ireland Training College on Kildare Place, rising to the rank of vice principal.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Grave

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16. Joseph Chambers (1860-??) was born in Down, and was educated at Queen's, Belfast (BSc 1883). His career was spent as an inspector of national schools.

1901 Census / 1911 Census

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17. William Carmody (1862-1938) was born 17 March in Waterford City.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1886, MA 1918) and had a career as a clergyman, including a stint as Dean of Down.  He contributed to the Educational Times.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Lisburn Rector / Down Dean / Edu Times

 

 

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18. George Preston (1863?-1902) was born in Dromore, Down, and was educated at TCD (BA 1886).  The 1901 census lists him as a retired professor of maths.

1901 Census

notable_photo 19. Doctor Benjamin Steede (1863-1920) was born in June in Nenagh, Tipperary.  He grew up there, in Galway, and in Belfast.  He was educated at Queen's Belfast (BSc 1886?) and at TCD (BA 1887, MA 1890, MD 1894). His career was spent as a GP in Newcastle and Rostrevor, Down, and while there he contributed to the Educational Times and the Proceedings of the RIA.  (Photo courtesy of Mike Steede.)

Educational Times / PRIA

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20. Edward Cromie (1864-1954) was born 26 March in Down, and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1885).  His career was spent as an inspector of national schools.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Bio / Obit

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21. William McFadden Orr (1866-1934) was born 2 May in Ballystockhart, Comber, Down, and was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1885, MA 1887), where he was taught by John Purser, and Cambridge (St John's, senior wrangler 1888, part II 1889, MA 1892). His career was mostly spent at the Royal College of Science for Ireland, moving to UCD when RCSI was merged with it in 1926. His interests were broad, and he published on hypergeometric series, dynamics and fluid dynamics. QUB awarded him an honorary DSc (1919).

Wikipedia / Cambridge / Nature / Royal Soc / Dic Nat Bio / Equation

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22. Robert Watson (1870-1946) was born 5 March in Ballymacash, Derriaghy, Antrim, and was brought up Dromore, Down.  He was educated at the Royal College of Science for Ireland (BSc) and TCD (BA 1895?). Most of his career was spent teaching in England, at the Redruth School of Mines in Cornwall, St Dunstan's (London) and at Colchester Royal Grammer School.

Obit 1 / Obit 2

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23. Frederick Lyons (1874-) was born 9 May in Newtownbreda, Lisburn, Down.  He was educated at Queen's College Galway (BA 1898?).  No career information is known.

Birth

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24. Alfred Gillespie (1877-1961) was born 6 July in Newry, Down, and was educated at Queen’s Belfast (BA 1899). His career was spent as a clergyman, in Down, Tyrone and Belfast.

1901 Census / 1911 Census

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25. James Martin (1877-) was born 2 August in Ballynahinch, Down.  He was educated at Queen's College, Belfast (BSc 1899) and spent his career in the civil service in India.

1901 Census / 1923?

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26. Thomas Vinycomb (1878-1843) was born 2 November in Holywood, Down.  He was educated at Queen's Belfast (BA 1899, MA in physics 1901).  After 3 years at the Cavendish Lab he became head of physics at Woolwich Polytech.  He authored 2 books on electricity.

1901 Census / Cavendish / WWI / Obit

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27. John Clarke (1880-) was born in Down in 1880? and grew up there and in Galway.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1901).  No career information is known.

1901 Census

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28. Robert Jamison (1880-1943) was born 7 September in Ballyrush, near Comber, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BA 1900, MD 1908?) and spent his entire career as a doctor in Swaziland.

1901 Census / Swaziland

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29. William Hawthorne (1880?-?) was born in Down.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1901, BE 1903).  No career information is known.

1901 Census / 1911?

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30. Thomas Strain (1878-1949) was born 8 May in Dromore, Down.  He was educated at Queen's College, Galway (BA 1901 or 1904) and at Cambridge (St John's, year??).  His career included teaching in England at Chesterfield Grammar School (1906-1908), the Liverpool Institute (1908-1909) and Chelsea Polytechic (1909-1925), and tutoring on the Isle of Wight.

1901 Census / Death 

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31. Herbert Gibson (1881-1961) was born 21 March in Ballywater, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BA 1902) and at Cambridge (Queen's, BA 1903).  In 1911 he was teaching in Dublin, further information on his career is welcome.

1901 Census / 1911 Census

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32. Norman Graham (1884-1986) was born 11 September in Tattygar, Enniskillen, Fermanagh, and grew up there and in Comber, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1906, medical 1913??), and spent his career as a doctor.

1901 Census / 1911 Census 

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33. James Boyd (1887- ) was born in Antrim and grew up there and in Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1909?, MSc 1910?, medical?) and spent his career as a doctor.

1901 Census1911 Census

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34. Ellie Harvey (1891-1923) was born 30 March in Drumbeg, Lisburn, Down. She was educated at QUB (BA 1913, MA 1914 with a thesis on "Applications of Nomography to Discontinuous Liquid Motions").  She died young.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Death

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35. Jeanie Anderson (later Kyle, 1891- ) was born 4 June in Drumnagally, near Banbridge, Down, and was educated at TCD (BA 1914) where she was a Scholar.

1901 Census / 1911 Census / Prizes

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36. Amy Woods (later Rentoul, 1894- at least 1939) was born 10 November in Downpatrick, Down.  She was educated at QUB (BA 1917, MSc 1919, MA 1921).  Both masters were by thesis, the first on "Work on Diffraction Grating" and the second (under William Morton) on "The Graphical Solution of Differential Equations of the First Order and First Degree".  She was appointed demonstrator of physics at QUB in 1917 and also served as lecturer in maths till at least 1922.

1901 Census / 1911 Census

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37. Sydney Mytton (1889-1954) was born 5 May in England and grew up there and in Holywood, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BA 1909) and the University of London (BSc 1912) and spent his career as an accountant in London and Dublin.

1901 Census / Campbell

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38. Bill Loughrey (1907-1977) was born 1 November in Dromore, Down, and was educated at TCD (BA 1930) where he was a maths scholar.  He taught briefly at Campbell College (1930-1934), and then at Rugby in Warwickshire (1934 to at least 1949).  He is remembered as a cricketer.

1911 Census / Wikipedia / Cricket

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39. Jack Todd (1911-2007) was born 16 May in Carnacally, Down, and grew up there and in Belfast.  He was educated at first at QUB (BA 1931).  After 2 years studying with Littlewood at Cambridge, he taught at QUB and at King's College, London.  Following several years at the Admiralty, during the war, he moved to the USA, where he spent a decade at the National Bureau of Standards.  The rest of his career was spent at Caltech, where he supervised 5 PhDs and wrote 2 books.  He was an early proponent of using computers to do numerical mathematics.  His efforts in the 1940s helped to ensure the preservation of the Oberwolfach Mathematical Research Institute in Germany.

Wikipedia / MacTutor / IMS / Caltech

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40. Agnes Chambers (1912- ) was born 28 July in Downpatrick, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1933). She worked for the UK Met Service starting in 1944.

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41. Eliza Brown (1912- ) was born 20 January in Ballymurphy, Newtownards, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1933).  No career information is known.

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42. Marion Heanen (1913-1970) was born 17 January in Downpatrick, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1934).  She taught at King's Norton Secondary School in Birmingham.

 

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43. Jim Walmsley (1912-2008) was born 4 October in Kilkeel, Down.  He was educated at first at TCD (BA, 1935), where he has been a maths scholar, and after a year teaching at Campbell College he studied law at Oxford. He then spend a decade in the civil service in India.  For the rest of his career he worked for Easons.

Link / RIP / Irish Times

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44. Joseph Heaney (1913- ) was born 2 June in Banbridge, Down, and was educated at TCD (BA 1936).  His career was spent in the civil service in Nigeria.

 

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45. Billy Todd (1913-1981, brother of Jack above) was born 2 November in Carnacally, Down, and grew up there and in Belfast.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1936).  His career was spent teaching at Methodist College and later Rainey School.

 

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46. Nora Auterson (later Hoey, 1916-1980) was born 1 July in Newry, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1937).No career information is known.

Link

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47. Elizabeth Bailie (later Craig, 1915?- ) was born 8 December in Killenican, Down.  She was educated at QUB (BSc 1937).  Nothing further is known.
 

48. Bertie Todd (1917-1992?, brother of Jack & Billy above) was born 17 August in Carnacally, Down, and grew up there and in Belfast.  He got a University of London external degree by correspondence.  While his career was spent in research in the linen industry, some of his publications had mathematical content.

Papers

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49. Frederick Jones (1919-1990) was born in Kilkeel, Down, and was educated at TCD (BA 1942).  No career information is known.

 

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50. Jack Cromie was born in Rathfriland, Down, and was educated in electrical engineering at QUB (BE 1957, ME 1964).  He taught maths at Belfast College of Technology and then for 25 years at the Ulster University at Jordanstown.
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51. Astronomer Ian Elliott (1936-2015) was born 5 September in Bangor, Down.  He was educated at TCD (BA 1959, MSc 1962 by thesis, PhD 1967), his doctorate on "The Solar Balmer Lines" being done under Mervyn Ellison.  His entire career was spent at Dunsink Observatory.  The biography of gentleman astronomer William Wilson which he had long worked on was completed by Charles Mollan and published in 2017.

Irish Times / Obit / Book

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52. Ken Glass was born in Kilkeel, Down, and he was educated at first at QUB (BSc 1959).  His 1963 PhD on "On Extending a Norm Residue Symbol" was done at Indiana University under George Whaples.  His career was spent at QUB.
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53. Trevor McCallion was born in Down, and was educated at QUB (Bsc 1967, MSc 1968, PhD 1972), his thesis on "Completely Regularly Ordered Spaces and Related Topics" being done with Derek Burgess.  His career was spent as a biometrician for the Dept of Agriculture in Belfast.
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54. Brian McMaster was born 12 Jan in Bangor, Down, and grew up there, in Balllygowan, and later in Belfast.  He was  educated at QUB (BSc 1968, MSc by thesis 1969, PhD 1972), his doctoral thesis on "Generalizations of Topological Semilattices and Lattices" being done under Derek Burgess.  He taught at QUB for 4 decades, supervising 8 PhD doctoral students.  He has co-authored an undergraduate book on topology and another on analysis.

Web

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55. Ray Flood was born 1 December in London and raised in Downpatrick, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1970), Oxford (MPhil, 1971) and UCD (PhD 1980), his thesis on "Some Aspects of Random Field Specifications" being done under Wayne Sullivan.  He has taught at Kevin Street, DCU, Oxford and Gresham College.  Trained as a probabilist, he has great expertise in history and biography of mathematical science, and has authored or edited 11 books on those topics.

Wikipedia / Gresham

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56. John McWhirther was born in Newry, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1970, PhD 1973), his thesis on "The Virial Theorem in Collision Theory" being done with Benno Moisewitsch.  His career has been spent in signal processing, first at Malvern and then at Cardiff University.

Wikipedia

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57. John Mitchell was born 7 October in Downpatrick, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1970, PhD 1973), his thesis being done under Philip Burke.  His entire career was spent in the UK meteorological service.

Wikipedia

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58. David McSherry was born in Newry, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1973, MSc 1974, PhD 1976), his thesis on "A Study of Binary Relations In General Topology" being done under Derek Burgess.  Switching to CS, he spent a decade in biometrics at QUB and after a stint at Lancaster University settled at Ulster University, Coleraine, for the rest of his career.
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59. Peter McPolin was born 1 December in Ardbrin, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1978, PhD 1983), his thesis on "Disjointness Preserving Linear Mappings on a Vector Lattice" being done with Tony Wickstead.  His career has been spent at St Mary's College, Belfast.

 

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60. Julie Matier (later Lamont, 1967?-2011) was born in Bangor, Down, and was educated at QUB (BSc 1988?, PhD 1991), her thesis on "Total Negation in General Topology and in Ordered Topological Spaces" being done under Brian McMaster.  Her career was in finance, but she died relatively young.

ResearchGate

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61. Colin Turner ( Carroll) was born 20 January in Enniskillen, Fermanagh, and grew up mostly in Bangor, Down.  He was educated at QUB (BSc 1993, PhD 1997), his thesis on "Total Negation of Topological Properties in Constrained Environments" being done with Brian McMaster.  His career so far has been spent in engineering at Ulster University in Jordanstown.

UU

 

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62. Rene Ritson (deceased) was born in Down and was educated at QUB (BA ???, PhD 1998), her thesis on "The Development of Primary School Children's Understanding of Probability" being done with Brian Greer.