IOP Institute of Physics

For physics • For physicists • For all

Mary Somerville Medal and Prize

In 2016 Council established the Mary Somerville Medal and Prize.

Somerville was a Scottish science writer and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy, and was nominated to be jointly the first female member of the Royal Astronomical Society at the same time as Caroline Herschel. Somerville published her first paper, The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 1826. Her other work, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences is one of the biggest selling science books of the 19th century and was commonly used as a textbook until the early 20th century.


The award shall be made for exceptional early career contributions to public engagement within physics. The medal will be bronze and will be accompanied by a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.