Job Posting

This is the time of year during which a large number of physicists and mathematicians must turn their attention to the problem of finding employment for next fall. Physics Today has a jobs site here, which has a new posting that may interest some of my readers. Thanks to Michael Williams for pointing this out to me.

If applicants need a PD18 form, it’s available here.

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17 Responses to Job Posting

  1. Show some class! says:

    Newton, Hawking were no Fields medalist or Nobel laureates (for Physics). Certainly they are going to change that? 😉

  2. chickenbreeder says:

    Thanks for the tip. I will apply.

    OK seriously, Hawking’s predecessor James Lighthill was also neither a Fields Medal winner nor a Nobel laureate. Actually, he was a fluid dynamicist whose achievement would not qualify him for either. But he was a dominant figure in the applied mathematics circle in Britain. So, don’t be surprised if someone comes out of left field to take the job. (Lighthill was not a left-field choice. He was highly regarded and was recognized as exceedingly bright. His work on aerodynamics is world class. Only that aerodynamics is not a particularly fancy subject.)

    Another interesting trait is that although it’s called Lucasian Professorship “in Mathematics”, the Math here is almost always “applied” math (which means theoretical physics, geophysics, fluid dynamics, even meteorology, in British terms). This would exclude prominent British pure mathematicians like Andrew Wiles or Michael Atiyah, who would otherwise be big enough to fill the chair.

  3. FP says:

    To “show some class”,
    Dirac was Physics nobel winners and Lucasian professor.

  4. curious says:

    What’s happening with the current occupant?

  5. Peter Shor says:

    According to Wikipedia, the current occupant is planning to step down, and become Lucasian Professor emeritus. I hadn’t realized he was that old.

  6. Kea says:

    Excellent! I think I will apply.

  7. MathPhys says:

    He will be 67 soon. I thought he already has a position in the US.

  8. Peter Woit says:


    There were rumors that Hawking might move to Perimeter on his retirement, I hadn’t heard any rumors about the US.

  9. chickenbreeder says:

    Sixty-seven is the mendatory retirement age at Cambridge (and all Britain?) that’s why Hawking is stepping down. Dirac also retired from Lucasian chair at 67, then spent the rest of his life in Florida as we know.

    Speaking of which, both Dirac and Hawking were appointed the chair at a very young age, in their 30’s, and held the position for a long time. Lighthill occupied the chair from his 40’s to 50’s before moving to other more administrative positions. The limited samples seem to indicate that the ideal candidate is someone who is relatively young but already a dominant figure.

  10. Jimbo says:

    ProtoBrits for Lucasian Immortality:
    Julian Barbour, Michael Green, Neil Turok, Michael Berry, Mike Duff,
    David Deutsch, Roy Maartens, to name a few.
    Now the real question: Who is stuffy enough to fit in at Cambridge ?

  11. Chris Oakley says:

    I just got the forms.

    There is a section on disabilities (which worried me at first as I am pretty much able-bodied), but upon closer inspection, it turns out that this is not a requirement.

    As I liked the idea of being the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University, I was thinking of applying. I was about to e-mail Lubos to see if he would be prepared to give me an academic reference when I decided against it.

    Firstly, I did not fancy the heavy teaching load (40 hours per year).

    Secondly, the remuneration £60-124K (US $95-200K) – is less than a contract programmer earns in (what is left of) the finance world.

    Well … maybe next time. Or probably not, as it seems likely that I will be over 67 when the appointee retires.

  12. Mitch Miller says:

    Are there any rumors for the Lucasian professorship? I can’t imagine there being that many qualified people who are also interested in changing jobs.

  13. Figures Britain has a mandatory retirement law. People should require when they are no longer productive or when they want to retire, not when some socialist government says they must. Not everyone is the same, some people are still very productive at 67 and beyond.

  14. chickenbreeder says:

    David – Mandatory retirement in academia is not a bad idea. Retired scientists can still freely pursue their research.  I am sure Hawking will. In the U.S., emeritus professors often keep an office and are eligible to solicite external funding just like regular faculty.  The difference is, their retirement frees up new positions for young people, easing traffic jam at bottom.  This is critically important considering that, in certain fields, the total number of permanent positions have remains steady for a long time.

    The mandatory retirement age is 60 at University of Tokyo. In some other Japanese Universities it’s 62 or 63. People over there seem to have no complaint with that.

  15. Covariant says:


    If you weren’t in your current position would you consider applying?

    I wanted to add that I picked up “Not Even Wrong” again. I read something this morning that made me think that certain fields of physics are moving more and more into the absurd.

    For some reason, there was something about it that made some of your observations begin to resonate.

    I won’t go so far as to question all of string theory, but I have the feeling that we have exhausted the legitimate predictive power of QM and GR and the desire for expediency is leading to a cascade of abominations.

    I think their might be something to this Peter Woit character afterall.

  16. Peter Woit says:


    No, I’m not qualified for that position. Like many a researcher, in my moments of extreme fantasy, I think that maybe the ideas I am working on now will lead to a huge success, one that might make me qualified for such a position. At the moment, that is pure fantasy.

    And, luckily for me I’m very happy in New York working at Columbia, with no desire to go anywhere else.

  17. JustAnotherGradStudent says:

    So, are we placing wagers?

    Here’s a wild guess—David Tong. Young, energetic, very intelligent, already a Cambridge guy, definitely a mathematical physicist.

    Anyone else have any guesses? The criteria seems to be a mathematical physicist, >67 yrs old.

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