I was born and bred in Edinburgh, graduating from Edinburgh University with 1st class Honours in Mathematical Sciences in 1957.
I won the Ferguson Scholarship and came to Trinity College Cambridge where I took the BA (Wrangler) in 1959, and the PhD on the subject Magnetohydrodynamic Turbulence, under the supervision of George Batchelor, in 1962. I was elected to a Fellowship of Trinity College,Cambridge, and Assistant Lecturer in the Mathematics Faculty, in 1961, Lecturer from 1964. I was Tutor, then Senior Tutor, at Trinity, 1970-1976, and was appointed to the Chair of Applied Mathematics at Bristol in 1977, returning to my present Chair of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge (and renewed Fellowship of Trinity College) in 1980.
I was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1986, and have since been elected Foreign Member of the Royal Netherlands and French Academies.
I have held a visiting Professorship (1992-1999) at the Ecole Polytechnique, Palaiseau.
In October 1996, I succeeded Sir Michael Atiyah as Director of the Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences in Cambridge. My research interests lie within the broad field of fluid dynamics, particularly in magnetohydrodynamics and the theory of turbulence, in which I have published more than 100 papers, and a research monograph "Magnetic Field Generation in Electrically Conducting Fluids" (CUP 1978).