# The Tait Chair of Mathematical Physics and its history

The identification of Mathematical Physics as a discipline distinct from physics and mathematics in Edinburgh began in 1922 when the Tait Chair of Natural Philosophy was established using the Tait Memorial Fund endowment. The chair was named after Peter Guthrie Tait, a close colleague of William Thomson and James Clerk Maxwell, and the intention was thus that it should be devoted to the teaching of mathematical physics. In 1966, it was renamed and is now called the Tait Chair of Mathematical Physics.

The Tait Institute was founded by Nick Kemmer in 1955 in honour of Peter Guthrie Tait. The Tait Institute provided an umbrella for both teaching and research in Mathematical Physics. On the teaching side, members of the Tait Institute took responsibility for the undergraduate degrees in Mathematical Physics, which have acquired excellent reputation. Research activity covered a broad range of areas in Mathematical/Theoretical and Computational Physics. It used to hold workshops and schools and host an annual lecture by distinguished mathematical physicists called the Schlapp Lecture. As of 2012, the Higgs Centre is fulfilling these roles.

**Currently recruiting the new Tait Chair of Mathematical Physics (deadline 30/04/2024)**

Find out more about the Tait Chair and the history of mathematical and theoretical physics in Edinburgh in this short film:

### 2022

Panayiotis Panayiotou

### 2021

Michalis Chatzittofi

### 2020

David Klompenhouwer

### 2019

Graham Brown

### 2018

Dimitrios Fetsios

### 2017

William Watson

### 2014

Michał Tomaszewski

### 2013

Sabin Roman

### 2012

Alastair Heffernan, Vladimir Prochazka, Mara Ungureanu

### 2011

Donald Slater

### 2010

Andrea Thamm

### 2009

Mariusz Szmigiel and David Marsh

### 2008

Alasdair Thompson and Michael Alexander

### 2007

Miriam McGilvery

### 2006

Gustav Sonne

### 2005

Ian McGhee and Andrew Duncan

### 2004

Jack Raymond

### 2003

Julian Sonner

### 2002

Andrew Angel

### 2001

Neil Drummond

### 2000

Michael Ramage

### 1999

Ian Vernon

### 1998

Alexander Graves and Andrew Stott

### 1997

Gordon T McAndrew

### 1996

Adrian Hunter

### 1995

Andrew E Teschendorff

### 1994

Anne E Currie and Douglas A Smith

### 1993

David J Miller

### 1992

Callum M MacLean

### 1991

Alastair K Ewing

### 1990

Robin F Steel

### 1989

James D E Grant

### 1988

Mark J Filipiak

### 1987

Alexander G Watt

### 1986

James K McKee

### 1985

Bruce M Forrest

### 1984

Christopher J Scott

### 1983

Stephen R Huggins

### 1982

Ian David King

### 1981

John S Sim

### 1980

Malcolm J Duncan and Ian A Fox

### 1979

James P Fraser, Elizabeth J Gardner and Harald S Kogon

### 1978

Peter J Corvi

### 1977

Andrew C Starritt

### 1976

No prize awarded

### 1975

T A Couper

### 1974

Graham M Shore

### 1973

W Merton

### 1972

Corrane Sloan

### 1971

J G Rodger

### 1970

P Denton

## A Brief History of the Tait Institute

### 1923

Charles Galton Darwin, grandson of the great naturalist, was appointed as the first incumbent.

### 1936

Max Born was appointed the second Tait Professor, after escaping from Nazi Germany. Born was one of the founding fathers of quantum mechanics, and won the Nobel prize for the probabilistic interpretation. In Edinburgh he gave his address variously as the Department of Natural Philosophy, and the Department of Applied Mathematics, but by 1943 he had resolved to call it the Department of Mathematical Physics. Find out more about Max Born

### 1953

Nick Kemmer became the third Tait Professor on Born's retirement and in 1955 moved his department to the Tait Institute of Mathematical Physics in Roxburgh Street. Find out more about Nick Kemmer

### 1966

The title of the chair was changed to the Tait Chair of Mathematical Physics. Peter Higgs wrote his famous papers while a lecturer at the Tait Institute in the early 1960’s.

### 1971

The Department of Mathematical Physics merged with the Department of Natural Philosophy to become the Department of Physics as part of the move to King’s Buildings.

### 1979

David Wallace succeeded Nick Kemmer on his retirement. A shift of interest towards parallel computing led to the formation of EPCC in 1990. Find out more about David Wallace

### 1994

Richard Kenway succeeded as the fifth and current Tait Professor, when Wallace became Vice-Chancellor of Loughborough University. Kenway retired in 2021. Find out more about Richard Kenway

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