Dr Martin Lavelle

Dr Martin Lavelle

Associate Head of School - School Outreach & Admissions

School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


I am the Associate Head of the School of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics with responsibility for Admissions and Outreach. If you would like to find out more about our degrees, please get in touch with me.

I have a strong interest in outreach and regularly talk in schools and at public events including recently at a local science fiction convention. Please contact me if you would like to arrange a talk.

My research is in theoretical physics and I currently teach calculus, vector calculus and supervise mathematics project students. I also teach mechanics to engineering students.

Teaching interests

I am a University Teaching Fellow and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. In Plymouth I have taught at all levels including on our mathematics degrees, service teaching and year zero. I have also taught abroad, including undergraduate lectures in Germany and Ireland, postgraduate lectures in Spain and an invited course of postgraduate lectures in Canada.

I have a long held interest in using technology to help students improve their understanding of mathematics and science.

I have an interest in creating screen capture videos to help support student learning. Many of these are available through our YouTube collection. Most of my work here is focused on calculus.

The results of some older work on creating interactive pdf files are freely available here plymouth.ac.uk/mathaid. as 50 pdf files with exercises and quizzes on topics ranging from elementary algebra to proof by induction. This work was funded by various LTSN and FDTL grants.

Students have more than once nominated me for a Student Union award for inspirational teaching. I have also twice been nominated for outstanding support. 

Research interests

My research is in quantum field theory and I am a member of the Plymouth Particle Theory Group. I have worked at universities in several countries and visited/spoken at many institutions including CERN, Japan's KEK, and the Thomas Jefferson National Acceleration Facility.   

I am especially interested in constructing locally gauge invariant descriptions of charged states and in the infra-red structure of gauge theories. This is intimately related to why quarks and gluons are confined. A key physical idea here is that charges are intimately connected to the background field that they generate.

The Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded in 2018 for ideas that have led to modern ultra-high power lasers. Such devices provide extremely intense background fields and my most recent papers are focused on how strong field Quantum Electrodynamics (QED) describes electrons in high intensity laser backgrounds. For example, the electron acquires a mass shift which we have recently shown is independent of the polarisation inside the full elliptic class of polarisations.

Copies of my publications may be found here. An earlier review of some of the central ideas is here.