St John's College Oxford
Ian Sobey

Ian Sobey

Formerly Fellow and Tutor in Engineering Science



Born in Adelaide, I studied Mathematics at Adelaide University and completed a doctorate in Applied Mathematics at Cambridge studying biological fluid flows. I spent five years in Oxford Engineering Science Department as a post-doctoral researcher and for two of those years, was a Research Lecturer (modern Junior Research Fellow) at Christ Church, studying theoretical, numerical and experimental fluid flows related to high performance mass transfer devices involving, particularly, blood. I was appointed to a Lectureship in Applied Mathematics at Bristol University where I continued to study fluid mechanics, notably unsteady separated laminar flow. This was followed by three years at Schlumberger Cambridge Research where I was a research scientist and project leader with interest in drill stem tests, kick detection and mud displacement during cementing in wells.

In 1987 I was elected to a Tutorial Fellowship in Engineering at St John’s College, Oxford, and University Lectureship in the Computing Laboratory, Oxford, within the Numerical Analysis Group. The group migrated to the Mathematical Institute in the early 2000s and my university post was retitled Associate Professor in 2014. I elected to retire in 2016 having completed 29 years as a Tutorial Fellow and a couple of months short of 40 years since first working at Oxford. During that time I served in many University and College administrative and examining capacities, taught a wide range of numerical analysis courses and tutored St John’s Engineers in Mathematics and Thermodynamics & Fluid Mechanics. I was also privileged to be Senior Common Room Wine Steward for over twenty years.

Research Interests

My research into unsteady vortex mixing contributed to new mass transfer devices, particularly for handling delicate fluids, such as blood, I authored a monograph on interactive boundary layer theory and I have led the development of a poro-elastic fluid model for movement of cerebrospinal fluid around and in the brain, in conjunction with a number of graduate masters and doctoral students. A fuller biography and details of my research interests can be found on my home page.