Mathematician, presenter and communicator
Katie Steckles is a mathematician based in Manchester, who gives talks and workshops and writes about mathematics. She finished her PhD in 2011, and since then has talked about maths in schools and universities, at science and music festivals, on BBC radio and TV, as part of theatre shows, in books and on the internet.
Current projects include:
- Online and in-person talks and workshops about mathematics
- Livestreams of maths content as part of the Finite Group Patreon
- New book Maths: 100 Ideas in 100 Words out 7th March 2024
- Editor of weekly 'BrainTwister' puzzle column, as well as 'Mathematics of Life' column every two months, in New Scientist magazine
- Monthly blog posts for the Heidelberg Laureate Forum's Spektrum.de SciLogs blog
- Organising and delivering training events for maths communicators, including planning the Talking Maths in Public conference in August 2023
- Mathematician in Residence placement at the National Maths and Science College, from September 2023
- After-dinner speaking, and preparing and running maths-themed icebreakers and quizzes for conferences and events
Longer-term projects, with links, are listed below.
Katie is the organiser of MathsJam, a monthly pub night for people who want to share maths toys and games, puzzles and other interesting mathsy things. Katie runs the Manchester meetings and helps to run the annual Gathering, coordinates the organisers of over 60 MathsJams worldwide, and helps to maintain the MathsJam website.
Katie has lectured part-time at SHU, teaching modules in the Institute of Education on complex numbers and cryptography, mathematical thinking and dynamical systems and fractals, as well as in the mathematics department, on group theory and linear algebra. Katie also contributed to SHU's outreach programme, and chaired the SHU Recreational Mathematics Research Cluster in 2022.
Katie appears in a lot of YouTube videos, including several on the YouTube channel Numberphile, talking about her favourite bits of maths. She has also appeared in one of James Grime's videos for the MathsWorldUK YouTube account. Katie's own YouTube channel, which she updates when she can, includes one on gift wrapping which has had over half a million views.
Since 2020, Katie has hosted the 24 Hour Maths Magic Show on her YouTube channel and delivered a variety of online talks and training workshops, including interactive art sessions and puzzle events. She's also co-organised variety shows including Clopen Mic Night, and created virtual venues for conference events using Gather.town.
Katie has delivered talks and workshops in schools for Think Maths with Matt Parker, engaging students with off-curriculum mathematics. Working with Matt, Katie ran the Domino Computer project at Manchester Science Festival in 2012, the MegaMenger international fractal construction project in 2014, and the Mirror Pillar anamorphic art project in 2018.
In 2016, Katie was awarded the Joshua Phillips Award for Innovation in Science Engagement, was the official Science Communicator in Residence for the 2016 Manchester Science Festival, and ran the Manchester MegaPixel project as part of the festival. 2016 Festival Brochure (PDF)
Radio & TV
Katie appeared on the 2018 Christmas Special episode of QI, to explain a mathematical concept through the medium of beer. She has also appeared several times on BBC radio, including talking to the BBC World Service about topical maths news, guest spots for various BBC local radio stations talking about maths and puzzles, and as part of a Naked Scientists programme about the Millenium Maths Problems for BBC Radio 5 Live Science, in July 2015. She has also appeared as a guest expert in two episodes of Channel 4's SuperShoppers, on a BBC Live Lesson in January 2018, and on the Discovery Science Channel's 'Mythical Beasts' in the US.
Katie has recorded seven series of the Mathematical Objects podcast with Dr Peter Rowlett. In 2014, Katie worked with Peter and the Further Maths Support Programme (now the AMSP) to produce a series of podcasts, called Taking Maths Further. Each episode features an interview with someone who uses maths in their work, plus some discussion on the mathematics, and a puzzle.
- Mathematics Masterclass speaker for the Royal Institution - workshops from primary to Sixth Form, lectures in the Ri's Faraday Lecture theatre, and summer programme workshops.
- Speaking at Robin Ince's Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People, Festival of the Spoken Nerd and An Evening of Unnecessary Detail, QED Con and Skeptics in the Pub events around the UK.
- Proofreading, question and puzzle writing for books, competitions and events, including So Awkward Scrapbook and Tim Peake's The Astronaut Selection Test Book; programme puzzles for events at the British Library, and questions for the Who Wants To Be A Mathematician? competition.
- TEDx Manchester speaker 2020; Dame Kathleen Ollerenshaw Lecturer for 2020; London Mathematical Society Popular Lecturer for 2018; 'Mathematician in Residence' in the Stephen Lawrence Art Gallery, University of Greenwich in 2015
- Volunteer with Manchester Girl Geeks, running events for women in STEM.
- Part of the Maths Busking project, performing and training.
- Theatre projects, including the19thstep's production of Everything & Nothing (later called Amelia and the Mapmaker), and Geddes Loom's Phi-based show Prelude to a Number.
Photo by Steve Best, Nine Lessons and Carols for Curious People 2018
Her mathematical passion is only equalled by her knowledge and her clever demonstrations.
Cheltenham Science Festival
Obviously a gifted presenter. Wonderful explanation and inspired both of the children (12 and 14) to investigate mathematics further!
Cambridge Science Festival
Like Ghostbusters, but for maths!
BBC Radio Manchester
Dr Katie Steckles is not just an amazing mathematician, but has proved to be a great speaker who holds the audience extremely focused.
Cambridge Science Festival
I really like the maths lady, I want to be a mathematician