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IOP Awards FAQs

Here we cover everything you need to know about the IOP Awards, how to make a nomination and the outcome of the awards review.

General information about the IOP Awards

What does the Institute of Physics recognise? 

The IOP recognises people, organisations and achievements that make physics such an exciting discipline. There are several categories that make up our awards:  

  • Bronze Early Career Medals and Prizes: We award our Bronze Early Career Medals and Prizes each year to exceptional physicists in the early stages of their careers (within six years of their PhD graduation date or within ten years of first beginning work in research and/or application of physics if they don’t have a PhD). 
  • Silver Subject Medals and Prizes: Our Silver Subject Medals and Prizes are awarded annually to recognise and reward distinguished contributions to physics in the UK or Ireland across 17 subject areas. We run eight medals in even years and nine in odd years. 
  • Gold Medals and Prizes: Our Gold Medals and Prizes are awarded to physicists with international reputations who have made consistent contributions to physics. We award six medals, three in even years and three in odd years.
  • Isaac Newton Medal and Prize: The Isaac Newton Medal and Prize is for world-leading contributions to physics by an individual of any nationality.
  • International Bilateral Medals and Prizes: Our International Bilateral Medals and Prizes are made jointly with physical societies in Germany, France, Italy and Australia. They are designed to strengthen relationships between our institutions and acknowledge outstanding physicists who are pioneering research and physics applications across borders.
  • President’s Medal: An honour bestowed by the President of the IOP, which recognises both physicists and non-physicists who have contributed to physics in general and the Institute in particular. 
  • Business Awards: The IOP Business Awards recognise the vital role physics and physicists play in our economy, creating jobs and growth by powering innovation to meet the challenges facing us today, ranging from climate change to better healthcare and food production. The IOP Business Awards are awarded in three categories: IOP Business Innovation Award, IOP Business Start-Up Award and Lee Lucas Award (for early-stage medical and healthcare companies). 
  • Technician Awards: The IOP Technician Awards celebrate the contributions that technicians make to physics. 
  • Apprentice and Apprenticeship Employer Awards: The Apprentice and Apprenticeship Employer Awards celebrate the contributions that apprentices make to physics and recognise employers that demonstrate their commitment and contribution to scientific and engineering apprenticeship schemes. 
  • Teachers of Physics Award: The Teachers of Physics awards celebrate the success of secondary school physics teachers who have raised the profile of physics and science in schools.
  • Phillips Award: The Phillips Award is for distinguished service by an IOP member to the Institute of Physics.
  • Honorary Fellowship: We invite nominations of exceptional individuals for the award of our highest honour, Honorary Fellow. Our Honorary Fellowships acknowledge physicists who have contributed to physics generally or to the work of the IOP.
  • IOP Ireland Awards: The awards build and reinforce a sense of community by recognising and rewarding excellence in individuals and teams and their contribution to physics.  

See a full list of our awards.

How do I find the right award for me/my nominee?

Think about the category, discipline or area of your nominee, as well as their career stage and geographical location. You can use our filtering tab to narrow down your search by category/discipline/area. You can also check the eligibility criteria and past winners on each award page.  

I am part of a group/nation/branch committee – can I nominate someone? 

Yes! We strongly welcome nominations from IOP groups, nations and branches. If you are submitting a nomination from an IOP committee, please select the relevant committee that this nomination comes with support from. Unfortunately, nominees, nominators and validators cannot be current members of Council, IOP employees, people under contract to the IOP, the Awards Committee, or members of any other IOP Awards judging panel.  

Why should I consider nominating myself, an individual or a team? 

Nominating for the IOP Awards is your opportunity to help recognise excellence in physics. You may consider making a nomination for yourself, another individual or a team for many reasons. That could be to celebrate contributions to the physics community and wider society, ensure that under-represented groups are being nominated or help advance someone else’s career.  

You can self-nominate for most award categories, but you can also ask someone else to nominate you. This could be someone who is familiar with you or your team’s work, and who can describe your achievements clearly. Find out more information on who can nominate for each award.

Nominators do not have to be extremely senior within the physics community, but if they are nominating an individual or a team, they should be familiar with the nominee's work and can describe their achievements clearly.  

I’m experiencing technical difficulties with the nomination portal. What do I do? 

Contact [email protected], indicating which award you are making a nomination for and the problem that you are encountering.  

What happens after I submit a nomination? 

Once a nomination is submitted, you will receive an email to confirm your submission. In the case of third-party nominations, the EDI form will be sent by email to the nominee, automatically, upon submission. If validations or further information is required for a specific award, emails will be sent to the relevant person(s) at submission. Please read the relevant award webpage to check what each submission requires. 

Once the submission and further details are completed/confirmed, the eligibility of the nomination is checked. If there are issues, an administrator will contact you to try to resolve this. Once the eligibility criteria are met, the submission progresses onto judging. You will be contacted to be informed of the outcomes at each stage.    

Who selects winners? 

We have several awards committees and judging panels for our awards. These committees are made up of IOP members and representatives from our community. Find out more information about committees and panels for the different award categories.

What happens if I win an award? When will I find out if I’ve won? 

You will be informed by email if you have been selected as a recipient of an award. We will ask you to provide some further details to enable us to send you your prize. Award winners are typically publicly announced in October each year.

How will the IOP use my data? 

The information you submit in the nomination form will be used for the sole purposes of processing your nomination and administering our awards process. In order to do this, selected information will also be shared with the committee so that they can evaluate the nominations and select winners.  

Information about Medals and Prizes 

I’m interested in a Medal and Prize which has eligibility criteria based on career stage. How does this work? 

Our Bronze Early Career Medals and Prizes are specifically for early-career stage physicists. As of the closing date of the call for nominations in any year, nominees for this award should be:  

  • within six years of completing their PhD
  • or, if they do not have a PhD, within 10 years of the start of their first employment contract where research and/or the application of physics is the primary function of their role   

Nominators will be prompted to complete eligibility questions as part of the nomination process. If the nominee does not satisfy these questions, the nomination will not progress to judging. 

The Jocelyn Bell Burnell Bronze Medal and Prize for exceptional early-career contributions to physics by a very early career female physicist has additional eligibility criteria – you can find out more on the awards page.  

When can I make a nomination?

Our Bronze Early Career, Silver Subject, Gold and Isaac Newton Medals and Prizes are open for nominations November to January. Exact dates can vary from year to year, so check our website for details. Make sure that you leave plenty of time to prepare and submit your nomination.  

How do I resubmit a nomination/update a nomination? 

Nominators can amend a submitted entry right up until the entry deadline. Login to the IOP Award platform and amend as appropriate, clicking ‘Save + next’ or ‘Save + close’ to update the form. 

How many nominations can I make? 

Nominees can only be considered for one Medal or Prize in any given year. Nominators are discouraged form submitting multiple nominations for the same individual or team. Nominators cannot submit the same nomination for both a Silver Subject and Gold Medal and Prize. Instead, please select the best category based on the eligibility criteria for the award.  

What do I need to do to make a nomination? 

You can find out how to make a nomination and what information is needed on our guidance for nominators.

Medals and Prizes now require an external validator to verify the nomination – how does that work? 

Nominators for all Medals and Prizes will be required to seek the support of an independent expert to validate the information in the nomination.  The validator must not be anyone named in the nomination, including the nominator. We no longer require references to be submitted for Medals and Prizes.

Validators will be well regarded in the appropriate field, familiar with the work in the citations and be able to validate the information for accuracy. Validators for Bronze Early Career Medals and Prizes should hold a more senior position than the nominee. For all other Medals and Prizes, validators should be in a position at least at the same seniority level as the nominee. They may be from within the same organisation or in a different organisation and they shouldn’t have been a collaborator for the past five years (defined as someone on a joint funding award or co-author).

Validators cannot be current members of Council, IOP employees, people under contract to the IOP, the Awards Committee, or members of any other awards judging panel.

Nominators should provide the details of a suitable validator in their form. The IOP will contact them after the nomination has been submitted to verify the nomination.

How are the Medals and Prize nominations judged? 

We provide Inclusive Meeting Guidance to members of our Awards Committee and judging panels.  

Committee members first review the full list of nominees for each prize and let IOP staff know of any conflicts of interest. Committee members do not assess any nomination in categories for which they declare a conflict.  

Committee members review nominations independently, and then meet – either in person or virtually – to select winners. The purpose of the meeting discussion is to enable sharing of perspectives between members, to allow the group to reach the best collective judgement.  

What is the allocation of the prize for a team winner of a Medal and Prize?

The Medal and Prize is the same if an individual or team wins an award. This includes one medal and £1000 prize money. Each team names a lead contact who is responsible for the allocation of the prize amongst team members, including three free memberships (if the award comes with free membership). 

My nomination was unsuccessful… is it worth trying again? 

Yes. Nominators have the option to tick a box on the form to roll over their nomination to the next year that the award is running unless the nominees’ circumstances have changed so as to make them ineligible. However, we encourage the nominee to update the nomination for the following year.  


Outcomes of the Awards Review and changes for 2024 Medals and Prizes cycle 

Why are we phasing Silver Subject and Gold medals?

Each year we award 27 Medals and Prizes (Bronze Early Career, Silver Subject, Gold, Isaac Newton). Since the last review (2019) the external and internal environments in which the IOP operates its awards have changed substantially.​ There has been a significant fall in nomination levels since the pandemic across most of the award categories. We regularly review our awards to ensure that nominations reflect the diversity of our community.  ​  

To make it easier for the community to recognise excellence in the community, Council approved the phasing of Silver Subject and Gold Medals and Prizes on a two-year cycle, with half running in even years and half running in odd years. We will continue running Bronze Early Career Medals and the Isaac Newton Medal annually.  

What Medals and Prizes are running in 2024 (and even years)?

All Bronze Early Career Medals and Prizes:  

  • theoretical physics (including mathematical and computational physics)
  • experimental physics
  • research excellence in commercial contexts in small or large businesses
  • physics and you are a woman in the early stages of your career
  • physics education
  • public engagement in physics

Silver Subject: Edward Appleton, Marie Curie Sklodowska, Rosalind Franklin, Dennis Gabor, Fred Hoyle, Ernest Rutherford, Joseph Thomson, James Joule. For distinguished contributions in:  

  • atomic or molecular physics
  • environmental, earth or atmospheric physics
  • physics applied to the life sciences (including biological physics)
  • nuclear physics
  • astrophysics, gravitational physics, or cosmology
  • physics education
  • applied/solving technical problems
  • research excellence in commercial contexts in small or large businesses  

Gold: Lawrence Bragg, Katharine Burr Blodgett, Michael Faraday. For distinguished contributions in:  

  • experimental physics
  • physics education
  • research excellence in commercial contexts in small or large businesses  

Isaac Newton Medal and Prize  

What Medals and Prizes are running in 2025 (and odd years)? 

All Bronze Early Career Medals and Prizes:  

  • theoretical physics (including mathematical and computational physics)
  • experimental physics
  • research excellence in commercial contexts in small or large businesses
  • physics and you are a woman in the early stages of your career
  • physics education
  • public engagement in physics

Silver Subject: Sam Edwards, James Chadwick, Peter Mansfeld, Lise Meitner, Nevill Mott, Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, John William Strutt Lord Rayleigh, David Tabor, Thomas Young. For distinguished contributions in:  

  • soft matter
  • particle physics 
  • medical physics 
  • condensed matter 
  • plasma, solar or space 
  • computational, mathematical or theoretical physics 
  • nanoscale, surface physics 
  • optics, including physics outside the visible region  

Gold: Paul Dirac, Richard Glazebrook, William Thomson, Lord Kelvin. For distinguished contributions in:  

  • computational mathematical or theoretical physics 
  • leadership 
  • public engagement  

Isaac Newton Medal and Prize

Why are we removing referees for all Medals and Prizes?

Council have approved the removal of referees for all Medals and Prizes in the recent review to remove unconscious bias and simplify the nomination process. To ensure that the judging process is robust, we are piloting a simple process to validate nominations by an independent expert. This will be managed and reviewed by the IOP.  

Why have we made the EDI form compulsory? 

To help us fully understand the diversity of nominations and awards, and we want to celebrate the excellent work of physicists from all backgrounds, it will now be mandatory to submit an EDI monitoring form with a nomination. There will be no obligation to answer questions in the form if nominators would prefer not to give this information, but the form itself will be obligatory to encourage nominators to share this important data. 

We will use the anonymised and collated data to understand our membership in the broadest sense, identify any possible barriers and develop more inclusive practices. The information collected will be treated as confidential and will be used only for monitoring purposes. Find out more about why we ask you to share your personal information with us.