19 July 2017
The Institute of Physics has honoured GSA alumna Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. They conferred their President’s Medal on Professor Burnell, a former student at The Mount School, York, in a ceremony during the International Conference on Women in Physics (ICWIP) in Birmingham.
The medal is given entirely at the discretion of the IOP’s president to recognise and honour outstanding contributions to physics. It was presented personally by the president of the Institute, Professor Roy Sambles, who commented: “Awarding the President’s Medal is one of the great pleasures of being president of the Institute of Physics – rewarding a lifetime of outstanding contributions to, and leadership within, physics.
“Jocelyn is a groundbreaking researcher, an inspirational leader within our community and a distinguished ambassador for physics – particularly for widening participation. She is a most deserving recipient and it is an honour to recognise her superlative career with this medal.”
Bell Burnell, an honorary fellow of the Institute who served as the IOP’s president from 2008–10 and was the first woman in the role, received the medal for “her outstanding contributions to physics through pioneering research in astronomy, most notably the discovery of the first pulsars, and through her unparalleled record of leadership within the community”.
She famously discovered the first four pulsars while a PhD student in Cambridge – an achievement that contributed to the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Professor Antony Hewish and Professor Martin Ryle in 1974.