Skip Content

Sir Alan Wilson FBA

Alan Wilson profile picture

About this Fellow

Sir Alan Wilson FBA FAcSS FRS is the Executive Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute. He was previously Professor of Urban and Regional Systems in the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. He is Chair of the Home Office Science Advisory Council. His current research is on the evolution of cities and the dynamics of global trade, migration, security and development aid. He writes the weekly Quaestio blog on research and interdisciplinarity. He is a Cambridge Mathematics graduate and began his research career in elementary particle physics at the Rutherford Laboratory. He soon turned to the social sciences, working on cities, with posts in Oxford and London before becoming Professor of Urban and Regional geography in Leeds in 1970. He was a member of Oxford City Council from 1964-1967. He was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1991 to 2004 when he became Director-General for Higher Education in the then DfES. After a brief spell in Cambridge, he joined UCL in 2007. From 2007-2013 he was also Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He was Chair of the Lead Expert Group for the Government Office for Science Foresight Project on The Future of Cities from 2013-2015. He is a Member of Academia Europaea, an FBA, an FAcSS and an FRS. He was knighted in 2001.



Current post

  • Executive Chair, The Ada Lovelace Institute

Past Appointments

  • Professor of Urban and Regional Geography, University of Leeds, 1970
  • Vice-Chancellor, University of Leeds, 1991 - 2004
  • Chief Executive, Alan Turing Institute, 2016 - 2018
  • Chair, Science Advisory Council, Home Office, 2016
  • Trustee and Board Member, Centre for Cities, 2016
  • Professor of Urban and Regional Systems, University College London, 2007 - 2018


Entropy and urban and regional modelling (1970)

Urban and regional models in geography and planning (1974)

Complex spatial systems (2000)

The science of cities and regions (2012)

(edited) Urban Modelling, five volumes (2013)

(with J Dearden) Explorations in urban and regional dynamics (2015)

Other Anthropology and Geography Fellows

Professor Paul Cloke

Geographies of rural change and nature-society relations; geographies of ethics, with expertise in homelessness, ethical consumption, and the role of faith-based organisations in tackling social exclusion

Professor Patsy Healey

The theory and practice of urban planning and place governance, particularly with respect to strategic spatial planning, and urban regeneration practices; empirical work primarily in Europe (including the UK)

Professor John Mack

The anthropology and history of art and material culture, especially in equatorial Africa and the western Indian Ocean; comparative work on themes such as memory, miniaturisation, and the experience of the environment

Professor David Smith

Geographical aspects of inequality, social justice and morality, including exploration of the interface of geography and ethics; research in the USA, Eastern Europe and South Africa