I graduated from Sussex University in 1977 with a first in Biological Sciences. In 1981 I was awarded an M.Phil., by thesis, on patterns of regeneration in amphibian limbs. I left academia in 1983 and joined the Civil Service as a tax inspector, before training to be a solicitor. I was in private practice, specialising in Family Law and Mental Health Review Tribunals until 1999, when I closed my firm and retired from the Law. These diverse antecedents have resulted in my being, probably, the only person in the world both to have been published in ‘Nature’ and to have had a Court of Appeal case reported in the Times Law Reports.

I came to Keele as an undergraduate and obtained a first class degree in Mathematics in 2003. I was awarded an Institute of Mathematics and its Applications outstanding performance prize in the same year. In 2004 I started a Ph.D. at Keele, but gradually became more involved in teaching. Having realised that teaching was my preferred career path, I abandoned the Ph.D. in order to take on an increased teaching load. I was appointed Teaching Fellow in 2008 and am now the senior Teaching Fellow in the Mathematics Department. Since 2008 I have been nominated on ten occasions, by students, for the Keele Teaching Excellence Award, which suggests, at least, that I must be doing something right!

Administratively, I have held the positions of Head of Mathematics (Learning and Teaching), School Director of Learning and Teaching, and Mathematics Programme Director.

Research and scholarship

As a Teaching Fellow, I have no research commitments.


  • MAT-10045:     Introduction to Algebra
  • MAT-10047:     Algebra
  • MAT-20025:     Abstract Algebra
  • MAT-30013:     Group Theory
  • MAT-30037:     Linear Algebra
  • MAT-40018:     Topics in Group Theory

Further information

In an administrative capacity I am the Examinations Officer for Mathematics, the coordinator for the MMath Programme, and the Year 4 Tutor.

  • Maden, M. & Turner, R.N. (1978), ‘Supernumerary limbs in the axolotl’, Nature, 273, 232-235.
  • Turner, R.N. (1981), ‘Probability aspects of supernumerary production in the regenerating limbs of the axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum’, J. Embryol. exp. Morph., 65, 119-126.

These publications are now more than 30 years old and have no relevance to mathematics whatsoever. But, as my mum says, “If you’ve got it, flaunt it”.

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Athena Swan