Sir Michael Atiyah FRS was the first Director of the Newton Institute and was appointed from the Institute's formal inception on 1 October 1990.
After graduating with his BA, Sir Michael continued to undertake research at Cambridge obtaining his doctorate. He was then made a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge in 1954. He then spent the 1955 as a Commonwealth Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Returning to Cambridge, he was a college lecturer from 1957 and a Fellow of Pembroke College from 1958. He remained at Cambridge until 1961 when he moved to a readership at the University of Oxford where he became a Fellow of St Catherine's College. Sir Michael was the Savilian Chair of Geometry at Oxford from 1963, holding this chair until 1969 when he was appointed professor of mathematics at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He returned returned to England after 3 years, becoming a Royal Society Research Professor at Oxford. He was also elected a Fellow of St Catherine's College, Oxford where he remained until 1990 when he became Master of Trinity College, Cambridge and the Director of the Isaac Newton Institute.
Sir Michael has received many honours during his career, including the Fields Medal (International Congress at Moscow in 1966). He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1962 at the age of 32. He received the Royal Medal of the Society in 1968 and its Copley Medal in 1988. He was President of the Royal Society from 1990 to 1995.
Among the prizes that he has received are the Feltrinelli Prize from the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei in 1981, the King Faisal International Prize for Science in 1987, the Benjamin Franklin Medal and the Nehru Medal. He was President of the London Mathematical Society in 1974-76 receiving its De Morgan Medal in 1980. Sir Michael was knighted in 1983 and made a member of the Order of Merit in 1992.