2014 Bragg medal and prize
Professor Peter Vukusic, University of Exeter. For his significant and impactful contributions to widening participation in physics education and outreach.
Peter is an extremely well-known lecturer in public engagement and outreach, using his beautiful work on iridescence in nature to illustrate physics concepts to the general public, especially school students. He was the Institute’s UK Schools lecturer in 2007 and the Ireland Schools Lecturer in 2011, both of which reach an extraordinarily large community of school students. He continues to give a large number of talks to schools and science societies.
Peter carried out a national initiative Girls into Physics to recruit women undergraduates and then to work with them in outreach activities in local schools, offering excellent role models to young women who might consider doing physics. This has been extremely successful in terms of increasing girls’ motivation for studying physics at university.
He has broadened the scope of his work to engage with school children and their teachers in Ethiopia and Malawi through the Physics into Africa initiative. He has proven to be an exceptionally popular and motivational teacher of physics to these students, gaining an enormous following and being invited to extend the programme into Tanzania and other countries. It is imperative that the physical sciences are embraced by students from sub-saharan Africa if the economies of these countries are to progress and if the global physics community if to benefit from the widest possible pool of new talent. Peter believes passionately in these ideals, and they permeate his work. He has had a remarkable impact on physics engagement and educating the next generation of physicists.