What are you most proud of about your work during the pandemic?
Without hesitation, it is having been able to take care of my students. The early phases of the pandemic were very unsettling for all of us (and, being the father of 3 boys, it was also a very noisy period of time for me!). I can hardly imagine what it must have been like for students living by themselves, sometimes miles and miles away from home. The solitude.
There has been some learning curve me, like working out how to teach using an iPad, but I rapidly discovered how to give lectures and tutorials to my students. It was, in my view, vital to preserve the links to the students: to talk to them, to get some news, and to teach. The hours were sometimes not traditional though – I had to profit where I could from the sleep of the little ones.
What you are doing now to build on that work following the end of restrictions?
It has been wonderful to get back to tutorials this year, but even more so to teach in large lecture halls. My first lecture in two years took place this January. It was my optional class on Networks in the Mathematical Institute, and it was great to feel like a rock star again – well, this could be a little over-statement – and to feel the crowd and their amazement at the show (I clearly have an idealised recollection of this class).
More seriously, I also believe that the crisis helped us to broaden our palette of educational tools, and I am convinced that video lectures are an ideal companion to in person teaching. In this respect, I am extremely happy and proud that my department made all of my lectures freely available on Youtube for students at Oxford and around the world to enjoy: https://www.maths.ox.ac.uk/node/40737