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Jocelyn Bell Burnell


Royal Society




Royal Society


United Kingdom


Royal Society



What Makes Jocelyn Bell Burnell a Global Shaker?

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who, as a postgraduate student, discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967. She was credited with “one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th Century”.

The discovery was recognised by the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish and to the astronomer Martin Ryle. Bell was excluded, despite having been the first to observe and precisely analyse the pulsars.

She served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society from 2002 to 2004, president of the Institute of Physics from October 2008 until October 2010, and was interim president following the death of her successor, Marshall Stoneham, in early 2011.

She gave the whole of the £2.3m prize money which she was awarded in 2018 for the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics to help women, ethnic minority, and refugee students become physics researchers

Tags: philanthropy, physics, STEM

Last updated: March 20, 2020