Although most of my mathematical career has been spent in the USA, I was Mason Professor of Mathematics at the University of Birmingham in the UK in the early 1990s, and am now honorary professor of mathematics at UCL. My teaching has covered everything from beginning undergraduate to advanced graduate courses, and my research has been focused on geometric aspects of symmetry.

Apart from numerous research papers, and my textbook on ‘Buildings’ — abstract geometries that embody some hugely important symmetry groups — I published a popular book Symmetry and the Monster describing the quest for all the basic building blocks for symmetry, and broadcast a series of BBC Radio 3 programmes on this in 2008.

One particularly intriguing aspect of this quest was the discovery of The Monster, and its ‘moonshine’ connections with the mathematics of string theory, a proposed way of combining gravity with quantum theory.