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Women in Science

Alison studied maths at Oxford University and went on to do a PhD. Part of her doctoral studies involved a Canadian Rhodes Scholars Foundation Scholarship. After a Lectureship in Edinburgh and a Readership at Queen Mary, Westfield, she returned to Oxford in 1998 where she is now a Professor.

Alison Etheridge


at the time of the interview - 2017

Alison is a Professor of Probability in the Mathematical Institute and Department of Statistics. She is a Fellow of Magdalen College and a Fellow of the Royal Society. She has two children. 


at the time of the interview -  2017

Alison grew up in Wolverhampton and went to the local comprehensive with her two brothers. She had enthusiastic support from her maths teacher who encouraged her to do her A Levels a year early and apply to Oxford to study maths. While she enjoyed physics and chemistry she was given the advice; “with maths you can do anything”. She found the Oxford tutorial system very helpful and had a very supportive tutor who remains a friend.

Alison tried research in industry as a summer intern but decided to stay on to do her doctorate at Oxford. As part of this, she spent some time in Canada on a Rhodes Scholars Foundation Scholarship and Alison describes this period, and a later year at U.C Berkeley, as transformational in terms of her learning.

And what you really want is open channels of communication that are not just the professors all meet for lunch and then the lecturers all meet for lunch and the postdocs all meet for lunch, you want things to transcend that, you want to be going up and down.

Alison got a lectureship at Edinburgh University and was able to combine this with a post-doc at Cambridge and then Berkeley. She then moved to Queen Mary and Westfield before coming back to Oxford University in 1998 as a tutorial fellow. In 1999 she was awarded a five year EPSRC Advanced fellowship.

Alison has two children and she has managed to work full time across her career, with a supportive and engaged partner, after school clubs and an au pair. The Advanced Fellowship enabled her to have flexibility in her work when her children were very young.

Oxford is very much home to Alison and her family, and she is heavily involved with university at a departmental, college and university wide level. Her recent work has been focusing on mathematical problems arising in population genetics. Ethnicity: White British.