Institute of Physics announces 2012 award winners

2 July 2012

The Institute of Physics (IOP) today, Monday 2 July 2012, announces this year’s award winners with the Isaac Newton Medal, IOP’s International Medal, going to Professor Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow, for his outstanding contributions to relativistic astrophysics and cosmology.

Professor Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow
Professor Martin Rees, Lord Rees of Ludlow

Attracting attention since 1967 with exciting astronomical predictions that have helped shape our understanding of the universe, he has subsequently made an enormous impact on public understanding of science through books and news articles while also providing leadership for the Royal Society and the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge.

From galaxy and star formation to the implications of a multiverse and the abundance of black holes – Lord Rees predicted that every large galaxy should have a central supermassive black hole – his theoretical work has shifted paradigms.

Professor Sir Peter Knight, President of IOP, said, “Lord Rees is a hugely important figure in astrophysics and cosmology.  While our capability to observe the peculiarities of our universe has grown at an unprecedented rate, his insights have provided us with a roadmap to make sense of them.”

Joining Lord Rees, a range of Gold, Subject, Early Career and Education and Outreach award winners have also been announced.

In the Gold category, Professor Graham Garland Ross from the University of Oxford receives the Dirac Medal for his research undertaken towards a ‘theory of everything’. As a pioneer of supersymmetry theory and phenomenology, he has been associated with pivotal theoretical developments in the search for a more fundamental ‘Beyond the Standard Model’ theory.

Also in the Gold category, from the theoretical to the applied, Sir David McMurtry and John Deer from Renishaw plc are awarded the Swan Medal after founding a company which sells advanced sensor equipment to a range of industries, including design and production of technology that has enabled robots to undertake neurosurgery.

Two further Gold medals have been announced with Professor J R Sambles from the University of Exeter awarded for his outstanding contribution to experimental physics and Professor Steven Cowley from the UK Atomic Energy Authority for leadership in a physics context.   

Among six Subject medals, Professor Colin O’Dowd from the National University of Ireland, Galway, receives the Appleton Medal for his leadership in atmospheric research while Professor Alywn Seeds from the London Centre for Nanotechnology receives the Gabor Medal for research into microwave photonic devices that has led to their commercial exploitation in wireless optical communication systems.

The three Early Career Awards and two Education and Outreach Awards recognise further physics-related excellence, from the development of excitonic solar cells to the publication of an acclaimed biography of Paul Dirac.

A full list of IOP 2012 award winners and further information about IOP’s Medals, Prizes and Awards is available on IOP.org.