Royal Astronomical Society medals go to IOP members

8 January 2016

IOP fellow Professor John Barrow has been awarded the Gold Medal in Astronomy of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) – this and the Gold Medal in Geophysics are the society’s highest honours.

John Barrow

Barrow, who is Research Professor of Mathematical Sciences at the University of Cambridge, receives the award “in recognition of his work as a world-renowned theoretical cosmologist”, his citation from the RAS says. It notes his extensive published work in fields such as the synthesis of the elements in the early universe, the origin of cosmic magnetic fields, limits on the time variation of physical constants and extensions of general relativity.

He has also been an “extraordinary ambassador for science and mathematics, while maintaining a lifetime’s work investigating novel and stimulating ideas in cosmology”, the RAS says. Among many awards that he has received are the IOP’s Kelvin Medal and Prize for 2009 and Dirac Medal for 2015.

IOP fellow Professor Philippa Browning has been awarded the RAS’s Chapman Medal in Geophysics in recognition of “her pioneering work on energy release by magnetic relaxation in stressed coronal magnetic fields”. Browning, who is Professor of Astrophysics at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics at the University of Manchester, chairs the IOP’s Plasma Physics Group and is on the advisory panel of the Institute’s Women in Physics Group.

An award also goes to IOP member Professor Tony Bell, who receives the RAS’s Eddington Medal in Astronomy for “his development of the theory of the acceleration of charged particles in astrophysics, known as Diffusive Shock Acceleration.” Since he made the discovery as part of his PhD, Bell has “continued to make major contributions to the theory of accelerating particles in natural and laboratory plasmas”, the RAS says. Bell, of the University of Oxford and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, was awarded the IOP’s Hoyle Medal and Prize in 2014.

The three are due to receive their awards with other medal-winners at the RAS’s National Astronomy Meeting in June.