Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Elected: 2020

Area(s): Science, Technology, Engineering, Medicine & Mathematics

Specialist Subject(s): Astrophysics

Although Dame Jocelyn is probably best known for her discovery of radio pulsars whilst a PhD student in Cambridge, she has, over a lifetime of dedication to science and society, contributed hugely over a wide range of areas.

As well as contributing to astrophysics at high energies (X-rays and gamma-rays) in particular, Dame Jocelyn has been a pioneer and role model for women and other under-represented groups in astronomy and science in general. She was the first women to be President of the Institute of Physics, the first woman President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and only the second woman President of the Royal Astronomical Society.

As well as her scientific work, Dame Jocelyn has written a number of books, appeared in many TV and radio programmes, and is a tireless speaker promoting science, as well as its relationship with religion, art and other issues. In 2018 she was awarded the $3 million “Breakthrough Prize” for her work, which she decided to donate to the Institute of Physics to fund PhD scholarships for students from under-represented groups in science.