National tour inspiring young mathematicians

An animal welfare expert is revealing how mathematics can help us better understand animal and human behaviour at one of the largest maths enrichment programmes in the UK.

Dr Lisa Collins, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, UK, is involved in the Maths Inspiration national tour which aims to offer Year 11 and Sixth Form pupils the chance to experience the UK’s most inspiring maths speakers live, presenting mathematics in the context of exciting, real-world situations.

Dr Collins is one of the world’s few animal welfare epidemiologists – applying the study of the patterns, causes and effects of health and disease conditions to animals.

In September 2014, Dr Collins was one of five academics from across the UK selected to present the prestigious Charles Darwin Award Lecture at the British Science Festival.

In her talk ‘Pigs, Chickens and Criminals’ she explains what the maths of waves can tell us about animal feelings and how maths has shown a link between misbehaving pigs and criminal behaviour.

Dr Collins said: “My A-levels included Maths and French, but I went on to study Biology as an undergraduate. I spent my spare time dreaming up mathematical models to describe the amazing biological phenomena I was learning about. I went on to do a PhD in the mathematics of chickens, and how they socialise. I now use that understanding to help with animal welfare – and some of my results turn out to be useful in studying human behaviour, too.”

The Maths Inspiration series includes a great line-up of speakers, including stand-up maths comedian Matt Parker, popular science writer Simon Singh and TV maths academic Hannah Fry.