RCUK Academic Fellow in Financial Mathematics, Heriot-Watt University
Beltane Fellow: 1 June 2009-30 Dec 2009
Dr Tim Johnson is the UK Research Councils’ Academic in Financial Mathematics at Heriot-Watt. Financial mathematics applies modern probability theory to finance. Dr Johnson’s specific area of research is in how to manage optimally an asset (not necessarily financial) given an uncertain world. In particular, he carries out research in optimal stochastic control and is interested in energy applications and behavioural issues.
As an RCUK Academic Fellow he has made various appearances in the media – press, radio and television – discussing the role of mathematics in finance. He has co-ordinated the engagement of the UK’s Financial Mathematics research community with policy makers and has drafted submissions, on behalf of the academic community.
Dr Johnson is Course Director of the only undergraduate degree course in Financial Mathematics in the UK. This means he regularly talks about financial mathematics to teenagers and has developed a number of games and computer simulations to help youngsters understand the key concepts. Before becoming an academic Dr Johnson worked in the oil exploration business for sixteen years.
During his Public Engagement Fellowship he plans to design some events that will take place at next year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival, which coincides with the joint meeting of the British Mathematics and the Applied Mathematics Colloquia. Much of the reporting of the financial crisis has been naïve, motivated as much by ideology and emotion as reason. Dr Johnson is keen to get more objective, scientific, scrutiny of finance, a field of human endeavour that has had close links with scientists from Thales, through Galileo and Newton up to the present.