2022 Henry Moseley Medal and Prize

Dr William Dunn for paradigm-shifting work on the outer planets, in particular the discoveries of X-ray emission on Uranus and the independent behaviour of X-ray emissions in both hemispheres of Jupiter, and for leadership of the ORBYTS research-with-schools programme.

Award Winner William Dunn

Dr William Dunn is a world expert on the magnetospheres and aurorae of the outer planets, particularly the X-ray emissions of Jupiter and Uranus. The X-ray waveband offers a unique window into the atmospheric composition and fundamental processes governing planetary systems, which Dunn has probed using telescope observations.

Dunn’s most notable scientific contributions include:

  • discovering X-ray emissions from Uranus.
  • identifying the fundamental physical processes that cause Jupiter to produce X-ray aurorae.
  • solving the 40-year mystery of Jupiter’s quasi-periodic pulsations by unifying the radio, UV, X-ray, particle and magnetic field pulsations.

These findings are extremely novel and provide a paradigm-shifting body of work, exceptional for his early career stage.

To facilitate this work, Dunn has led successful proposals that have won more Jupiter X-ray observing time in the last five years than had cumulatively been conducted in the preceding 40 years; exceeding 700 hours of observing time on flagship ESA and NASA space telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope, XMM-Newton telescope and Chandra X-ray observatory. Leveraging this rich dataset, Dunn has produced transformational science, addressing fundamental questions and leading to revolutionary discoveries.

Dunn has been awarded prestigious postdoctoral fellowships at University College London, ESA and the Center for Astrophysics (CfA) | Harvard & Smithsonian. He currently holds a Science and Technology Facilities Council Ernest Rutherford Fellowship. He was recognized for his excellent research achievements by winning the 2021 European Geophysical Union Planetary & Solar System Science Outstanding Early Career Researcher Medal and the Mullard Space Science Laboratory’s 2020 Robert Boyd Award for Scientific Achievement.

He is passionate about education equality and addressing chronic diversity issues in science. Since 2017, Dunn has managed the ORBYTS programme, growing the programme to a national scale. Orbyts creates long-term partnerships between scientists and schools, providing school students with relatable science role models while empowering them to conduct their own original space research projects. The programme is directly impacting science inclusivity, increasing post-16 science uptake by students from historically excluded groups (e.g. schools see 100% increases in uptake of physics by girls post-16 following ORBYTS participation pre-16). Dunn has grown ORBYTS from two to 35 scientist–school partnerships across multiple universities and regions, annually winning grants to support its expansion (e.g. 2021 UK Space Agency Space for All grant). This has enabled more than 200 school students, who self-identify from 50+ ethnicities, to author published scientific papers.

Through ORBYTS, he has supported planning and implementation of 100+ research-with-schools programmes. ORBYTS’ impact is reflected in it winning the 2021 Neon Award for Widening Access Initiative, the 2022 European Research Council ‘Inspire’ award and the Ogden Trust’s first Collaborative Project funding, which will enable these transformational opportunities for many more school students, researchers and universities.