Frances Kirwan

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Frances Kirwan

Frances Kirwan.jpg
Kirwan in 2009
Born1959 (age 60–61)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
AwardsWhitehead Prize (1989)
Senior Whitehead Prize (2013)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
Doctoral advisorMichael Atiyah

Dame Frances Clare Kirwan, DBE FRS (born 1959) is a British mathematician, currently Savilian Professor of Geometry at the University of Oxford. Her fields of specialisation are algebraic and symplectic geometry.[1][2]


Kirwan was educated at Oxford High School, and studied maths as an undergraduate at Clare College in the University of Cambridge.[3] She took a D.Phil at Oxford in 1984, with the dissertation title The Cohomology of Quotients in Symplectic and Algebraic Geometry, which was supervised by Michael Atiyah.[4]


Kirwan's research interests include moduli spaces in algebraic geometry, geometric invariant theory (GIT), and in the link between GIT and moment maps in symplectic geometry.[5] Her work endeavours to understand the structure of geometric objects by investigation of their algebraic and topological properties.[6] She introduced the Kirwan map. From 1983 to 1985 she held a Junior Fellowship at Harvard. From 1983 to 1986 she held a Fellowship at Magdalen College, Oxford, before becoming a Fellow of Balliol College, Oxford.[7] She is an honorary fellow at Clare College, Cambridge.[8]

In 1996 she was awarded the Title of Distinction of Professor of Mathematics. From 2004 to 2006 she was President of the London Mathematical Society, the second-youngest president in the society's history.[9] In 2005, she received a five-year EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship, to support her research on the moduli spaces of complex algebraic curves.[10]

In 2017, she was elected Savilian Professor of Geometry, becoming the first woman to hold the post.[11] While this entailed a move to New College, Oxford she was elected an Emeritus Fellow at Balliol.[12]

Prizes, awards and scholarships[edit]

Kirwan served on the medal selection committee for the awarding of the Fields medal to Prof Mirzakhani.[18]


  • Cohomology of Quotients in Symplectic and Algebraic Geometry. Mathematical Notes. 31. Princeton University Press. 1984. ISBN 978-0691083704.
  • An Introduction to Intersection Homology Theory. Longman Scientific and Technical. 1988.[19] with Jonathan Woolf: 2nd edn. CRC Press. 2006. ISBN 978-1584881841.
  • Complex Algebraic Curves. London Mathematical Society Student Texts. Cambridge University Press. 1992. ISBN 978-0521423533.


  1. ^ Oxford University Calendar 2004-5, Oxford University Press, 2004.
  2. ^ Professor Frances Kirwan, Faces of Mathematics
  3. ^ "Frances Kirwan, Professor, Mathematics, University of Oxford". University of Washington. 10 May 2007. Archived from the original on 13 November 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  4. ^ Frances Kirwan at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. ^ Prof Kirwan profile Archived 10 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 9 May 2014.
  6. ^ Prof Kirwan profile,; accessed 9 May 2014.
  7. ^ a b Academia Europaea member profile, retrieved 2014-06-22.
  8. ^ "Honorary Fellows". Clare College, Cambridge. Retrieved 12 November 2015.
  9. ^ "President Designate of the London Mathematical Society", Mathematical Institute News, University of Oxford, 2004.
  10. ^ Prof. Frances Kirwan awarded an EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship (2004),; accessed 9 May 2014.
  11. ^ "Frances Kirwan elected 20th Savilian Professor". 11 October 2017. Retrieved 21 October 2017.
  12. ^ "Emeritus Fellows - Balliol". 28 August 2009. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b Dr Frances Kirwan awarded the Whitehead Prize,; accessed 9 May 2014.
  14. ^ Profile,; accessed 9 May 2014.
  15. ^ Prof. Frances Kirwan awarded an EPSRC Senior Research Fellowship, Univ. of Oxford Mathematical Inst., retrieved 2014-10-20.
  16. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society; accessed 9 May 2014
  17. ^ "No. 60728". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2013. p. 7.
  18. ^ Webb, Jonathan (12 August 2014). "First female winner for maths medal". Retrieved 8 October 2019.
  19. ^ Kleiman, Steven L. (1990). "Review: An Introduction to Intersection Homology Theory, by Frances Kirwan". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.). 22 (1): 127–138. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1990-15859-8.