Kit Yates

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Kit Yates
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Manchester, England
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
Scientific career
FieldsAuthor and Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Biology
InstitutionsUniversity of Bath

Kit Yates (born 1985) is a British academic and author of popular science books. Yates is a Senior Lecturer in Mathematical Biology at the University of Bath and co-director of the Centre for Mathematical Biology. He has a diverse range of research interests and is a vocal advocate the empowerment of people through the communication of science.

Early life and Education

Yates was born in Manchester in 1985. His father, Tim Yates, was Communications Director at University of UMIST[1][2] and his mother, Nancy Yates, was a graphic designer at Manchester Museum.

Yates took A-levels in Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry[3] before going on to Somerville College, Oxford|Somerville College, University of Oxford to study for a BA in Mathematics[4]. He completed an MSc in mathematical modelling and scientific computing[5] before completing a DPhil in Mathematical Biology[6] under the supervision of Philip Maini|Professor Philip Maini[7] at St Catherine's College, Oxford|St Catherine’s College[6] and Worcester College[6], University of Oxford. During his DPhil Yates began his public engagement career by joining Marcus Du Sautoy’s outreach group The Mathemagicians[5] and writing for the University science magazine, Bang![8].

Research Interests

After completing his DPhil Yates won a Junior Research Fellowship at Christ Church, Oxford[9]. During this time he established his research programme in the mathematics of developmental biology and pattern formation[10].

Yates became a Lecturer at the University of Bath in 2014 and was subsequently promoted to Senior Lecturer. As an applied Mathematician Yates uses maths to describe the world. His research has been covered by media outlets including Reuters[11], Scientific American[12],RTE[13],the BBC[14], the Guardian[15], the Daily Mail[16] and The Dailythe Telegraph[17].

He has worked in diverse biological applications including modelling developmental defects[18] and understanding Locust|locust swarming[19]. He has also worked extensively on biological pattern formation including investigations into egg-shell patterns and the distinctive striped pigment patterns exhibited by zebrafish[20]. The underlying theme of his research is the role of randomness in Biology[21].

Science Communication

Yates is a science communicator and author. His first book, “The Maths of Life and Death“, was published in September 2019 in the UK by Quercus (publisher)|Quercus[22] and in January 2020 in the US by Scribner (publisher)|Scribner[23]. The book has been translated into 20 languages for readers around the world[24].

Yates has made numerous appearances on television and radio to discuss the real-world applications of mathematics on news channels including BBC News[25], and Sky News[26] as well as current affairs programmes like Panorama[27], More or Less[28] and Watchdog[29] and science-specific programmes such as Bang goes the theory[30], BBC Inside Science[31], BBC crowd Science[32] and Numberphile[33]. Yates also writes articles about the importance of Mathematics. His pieces have featured in the print media including the Huffington post|Huffington Post[34], the Guardian[35], Daily Mail|the Daily Mail[36], the Times[37], and the independent[38]. His work regularly features in popular science outlets including The Conversation (website)|the Conversation[39] Scientific American[40] and IFLscience[41]. Yates also sets mathematically themed riddles and puzzles for a range of newspapers[42] and radio[43] programmes.

Yates is also a director and trustee of Maths World UK[44] which aims to establish an interactive Discovery Centre in the UK, showcasing the patterns, structures, discoveries, applications and people of Mathematics.

COVID-19 Pandemic

Since the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic Yates has been communicating the ideas behind the mathematical models which underlie much of the scientific advice provided to Government. As part of his work Yates has appeared on BBC news[45], Sky News[46][47][26], BBC panorama[48], as well as on BBC Inside Science[31][49], BBC Crowd Science[32] and BBC More or Less[50][31][51].

In October 2020, Yates joined the Independent SAGE group[52], whose aim is to offer independent advice to the UK Government during the COVID-19 pandemic[53][54][55]. As part of his communication work, he has been quoted in several newspapers[56][57][58][59] and appeared on Sky News[26], BBC News[60] and BBC Radio|BBC radio[50][51][31][49] discussing the UK response to the pandemic. In particular Yates was amongst the first to suggest that the United Kingdom’s lockdown came too late, at the cost of many thousands of lives[61][62][28][63].

Awards, Honours and Recognition

2021 - Society of Mathematical Biology's Lee A. Segel Prize.[64]

2019 - The Maths of Life and Death named a science book of the year by Sunday Times Science.[65]

2016 - Winner of the University of Bath Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement with Research.[66]

2014 - Silver award in the Mathematics section of the national ‘SET for Britain’ poster competition[67]

Personal Life

Yates has stated that his desire to become a scientist stemmed from the death of his mother at an early age from cervical cancer[68], an event which he wrote about in his first book, The Maths of Life and Death[69].

Yates is a self-proclaimed Oasis (band)|Oasis fan, having grown up in Manchester near to where he band are from[68]. He is also a supporter of his hometown club, Manchester City F.C.|Manchester City[70]. Yates has two children[68].


The Maths of Life and Death, Quercus, (2019)[22].

How to Expect the Unexpected (Forthcoming)[71].


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  2. Information, Reed Business (1986-01-02). New Scientist. Reed Business Information. {{cite book}}: |first= has generic name (help)
  4. ""Maths is the loopholes in the law and the needle and thread that closes them"". Somerville College Oxford. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Kit Yates |". Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "Kit Yates | 2020 Science". Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  8. "Bang-Science-Magazine-Issue5". Issuu. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  9. "The Mathematics of Life". Interalia Magazine. 2017-02-15. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  10. "Research Overview | The Maths of Life and Death". Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  11. "Log In ‹ The Maths of Life and Death — WordPress". Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  12. Conversation, Christian Yates,The. "How the Cat Got Its Coat (and Other Furry Tails)". Scientific American. Retrieved 2020-11-14.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  13. "RTÉ Radio Player: Radio Just Got Easier". RTE Radio. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  14. "Critical mass: Why locusts swarm". Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  15. editor, Ian Sample Science (2016-01-06). "Piebald mystery solved: scientists discover how animals develop patches". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-11-14. {{cite news}}: |last= has generic name (help)
  16. Woollaston, Victoria (2016-01-06). "Revealed: What gives cats get their two-tone fur". Mail Online. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  17. "How black and white cats get their patchy fur - and why it could help explain health defects". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  20. Owen, Jennifer P; Kelsh, Robert N; Yates, Christian A (2020-07-27). Krishna, Sandeep; Walczak, Aleksandra M; Nair, Sreelaja; Ladher, Raj K (eds.). "A quantitative modelling approach to zebrafish pigment pattern formation". eLife. 9: e52998. doi:10.7554/eLife.52998. ISSN 2050-084X.
  21. "Dr Kit Yates". Retrieved 2020-11-14.
  22. 22.0 22.1 The Maths of Life and Death. 2019-03-05.
  23. The Math of Life and Death. 2020-01-07. ISBN 978-1-9821-1187-8.
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  28. 28.0 28.1 "Antibody tests, early lockdown advice and European deaths". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  29. "Mortgage rates low but arrangement fees increase". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. "Dr Yan and parabolic curves". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 "Coronavirus: Models & being 'led by the science'; Mars500 isolation tips; Kids' science - singing glasses". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  32. 32.0 32.1 "How do I learn maths when school's shut?". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  34. "The UK Was Never Four Weeks Behind Italy. How Did 'Following The Science' Go So Wrong?". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  35. Yates, Christian (2016-09-07). "Can disabled athletes outcompete able-bodied athletes?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  36. Yates, Dr Christian (2016-08-10). "It's official - time DOES go by quicker as we get older". Mail Online. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  37. Yates, Kit. "Truly uplifting". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  38. "Five ways ancient India changed the world – with maths". The Independent. 2017-10-04. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  39. "The Conversation: In-depth analysis, research, news and ideas from leading academics and researchers". The Conversation. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  40. UK, Christian Yates,The Conversation. "The Maths of Life and Death: Our Secret Weapon in the Fight against Disease". Scientific American. Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  41. "Why Time Seems To Go By More Quickly As We Get Older". IFLScience. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  42. "Nottingham: playing with Kit Yates/Marcus du Sautoy/Dara O Briain's Radio Times puzzle page". The Aperiodical. 2012-04-29. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  43. "Puzzle for Today, Puzzle No.112 – Tuesday December 5". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  44. "Dr Christian Yates". Maths World UK. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  49. 49.0 49.1 "Coronavirus R number, genome study of Covid-19 survivors and using aircraft messages to assess aviation". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  50. 50.0 50.1 "Schools and coronavirus, test and trace, maths and reality". Retrieved 2020-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  51. 51.0 51.1 "More or Less - Ethnic minority deaths, climate change and lockdown - BBC Sounds". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  52. "Independent SAGE | Following the Science". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  53. "HuffPost is now a part of Verizon Media". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  54. Davis, Nicola (2020-05-04). "Rival Sage group says Covid-19 policy must be clarified". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  55. Mahase, Elisabeth (2020-05-05). "Covid-19: UK advisory panel members are revealed after experts set up new group". BMJ. 369. doi:10.1136/bmj.m1831. ISSN 1756-1833. PMID 32371467.
  56. Weiss, Sabrina (2020-04-03). "Why modelling can't tell us when the UK's lockdown will end". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  57. Weiss, Sabrina (2020-04-03). "Why modelling can't tell us when the UK's lockdown will end". Wired UK. ISSN 1357-0978. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  58. Davis, Nicola; Duncan, Pamela (2020-09-11). "Where and why are Covid cases rising in the UK – and what's next?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  59. Senior, Sam Blanchard (2020-05-01). "How does Britain's coronavirus death toll compare to other countries'?". Mail Online. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  60. highlights, 13 Oct 2020 | Media. "Kit Yates talks to BBC about the new tiers for Covid restrictions | Independent SAGE". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  61. "Government slammed by scientist who says 30,000 deaths could have been prevented by acting sooner". 2020-05-22. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  62. "Coronavirus: 'Earlier lockdown would have halved death toll'". BBC News. 2020-06-10. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  63. Donnelly, Laura (2020-05-20). "Earlier lockdown could have prevented three-quarters of UK coronavirus deaths, modelling suggests". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  64. "Lee A. Segel Prize". Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  65. Bleach, Stephen. "The Sunday Times best science books of the year 2019". ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  66. "Winners of the Vice-Chancellor's Engage Awards". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  68. 68.0 68.1 68.2 "Staff Spotlight on... Dr Kit Yates". Retrieved 2020-11-21.
  69. Yates, Kit (2019-09-05). The Maths of Life and Death (in العربية). Quercus. ISBN 978-1-78747-539-7.
  70. Retrieved 2020-11-21. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  71. "The Castaway Library… with Kit Yates". Retrieved 2020-11-21.

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