Agnes Scott College

Frances Clare Kirwan


August 21, 1959 -

Contributed by Angel Guo, Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter NH

Dame Frances Clare Kirwan was born on 21 August 1959 in Oxford, United Kingdom. She studied mathematics at Clare College at the University of Cambridge, and received her Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 1984. Her thesis, The Cohomology of Quotients in Symplectic and Algebraic Geometry, was supervised by Sir Michael Francis Atiyah, a recipient of the prestigious Fields medal.

After university, Dr. Kirwan served as a junior fellow at Harvard, a fellow at Magdalen College in Oxford, and a fellow at Balliol College in Oxford where she earned a title of distinction. She was the Savilian Professor of Geometry at New College in Oxford, being the first woman to hold that role, before becoming an emeritus fellow in 2023. [Past Savilian Professors of Geometry include John Wallis (1649-1703) who introduced the symbol ∞ to represent infinity, and Edmond Halley (1704-1742) of Halley’s Comet fame.] Kirwan also served as an honorary fellow at Clare and an emeritus fellow at Balliol.

Dr. Kirwan's research centers on algebraic geometry and covers such fields as Moduli spaces, invariant theory, and symplectic geometry. Her work helps mathematicians "understand the structure of geometric objects by investigating algebraic and topological properties" (1). Additionally, Dr. Kirwan invented Kirwan’s map, which maps out differential geometry.

Furthermore, Dr. Kirwan has served on many academic organizations and achieved a plethora of accolades throughout her continuous career. Most notably, she served as the president of the London Mathematical Society from 2004-2006 and the chair of the UK Mathematics trust from 2010-2016. Additionally, she served on the board that elected Miryan Mizrykani for the Field Prize in 2014. Dr. Kirwan has also received the Order of the British Empire, the Whitehead and Senior Whitehead prizes, and the Sylvester medal for her research in algebraic geometry.


  1. Wikipedia. "Frances Kirwan." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2022,
  2. New College. "Frances Kirwan: New College." Frances Kirwan | New College, [no longer available].
  3. Oxford Mathematical Society. "Prof. Frances Kirwan FRS." Frances Kirwan | Mathematical Institute,