Jocelyn Bell Burnell has been awarded the world’s oldest scientific prize, the Royal Society’s prestigious Copley Medal. The medal is awarded for outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science and recognises her work on the discovery of pulsars, one of the major astronomical advances of the 20th century.
Jocelyn is the second woman to be awarded the medal – the first being Oxford alumna Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin. Other notable recipients of the Copley Medal since it was first awarded in 1731 include Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein. The award includes a £25,000 gift which Jocelyn will add to the Institute of Physics’ Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund that provides grants to graduate students from under-represented groups in physics.
Jocelyn comments: ‘Receiving this award has been quite a surprise, especially since it relates to work I did over 59 years ago – at least it shows that the work was durable! Indeed, pulsars continue to be used to test some aspects of fundamental physics such as theories of gravity and the strong equivalence principle.’
‘We are extraordinarily proud of Jocelyn on this achievement,’ congratulates Professor Ian Shipsey, head of the Department of Physics. ‘It is richly deserved in recognition of her remarkable scientific work and her tireless efforts to increase diversity in physics. It is an enormous privilege to work alongside her here at the Department of Physics – congratulations, Jocelyn!’