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Joshua Bull

Applied Mathematician / Cancer Researcher / Fantasy Footballer

I’m a mathematician who applies maths to cancer and medicine – I didn’t even realise that existed when I was at school! I studied Maths and Philosophy at the University of Southampton and became interested in applied maths there, but I always thought that “applying maths” to real world problems meant “doing some sort of physics”. During my Masters degree at Durham University I took a course called Mathematical Biology, and discovered not only that maths was useful in that context, but also that people like mathematicians are desperately needed to help make sense of the huge amounts of data that doctors now generate every day. I came to Oxford to do a PhD in mathematical oncology (maths applied to cancer) and now spend every day working with biologists and clinicians to try and understand how diseases work (and how to stop them).

While working in the Maths Institute I got involved in playing Fantasy Football, and somehow managed to win the whole competition in 2020! I love talking to people about maths, and this was a great opportunity to showcase how the logical and strategic thinking that maths requires can be helpful when you least expect it. I’ve also used some of the modelling techniques that I apply in my research to try to understand whether my strategy was the right one – you can see my thinking in this Youtube video.

Watch my Oxford Mathematics public lecture all about the Fantasy Premier League.

Check out the ‘Research on the Rocks’ podcast – a new science/history/everything podcast that I’ve launched with some friends!