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Institute of Physics Awards 2020

Our awards aim to build and reinforce a sense of community by recognising and rewarding excellence in individuals and teams who have made a contribution to physics.

Introducing our 2020 award winners.


Jonathan Flint, IOP President CBE, says: “Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s IOP Awards, which recognise and reward excellence in individuals and teams and their contribution to physics. We’re delighted to celebrate the winners’ extraordinary achievements.” 

President's Medal

For both physicists and non-physicists who have contributed to physics in general and the IOP in particular.

President's Medal

President's Medal winner 2020

  • Professor Myriam P Sarachik receives the medal for her fundamental contributions to condensed matter physics, lifetime service to the physics community and efforts to defend the human rights of scientists and the principles of diversity and inclusion in physics.

Read more about the President's Medal.

Isaac Newton Medal and Prize

The Isaac Newton Medal and Prize is for world-leading contributions to physics by an individual of any nationality.

Image of Isaac Newton Medal

Isaac Newton Medal and Prize winner 2020

  • Professor Nader Engheta receives the medal and prize for groundbreaking innovation and transformative contributions to electromagnetic complex materials and nanoscale optics, and for pioneering development of the fields of near-zero-index metamaterials, and material-inspired analogue computation and optical nanocircuitry.

Read more about the Isaac Newton Medal and Prize.

Gold Medals

Our six Gold Medals recognise outstanding and sustained contributions by physicists of international renown to a wide range of physics.

Image of Paul Dirac Medal

Gold Medal winners 2020

  • Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock receives the William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize for exceptional services to science education and physics communication, including her inspirational work with thousands of school students as well as expert opinion on radio and television.

  • Professor Nicholas St John Braithwaite receives the Lawrence Bragg Medal and Prize for his outstanding contribution to the authentic teaching of practical science through the development of the award-winning OpenSTEM Labs, available to learners in all places and at all times.

  • Professor John Llewellyn Collier receives the Richard Glazebrook Medal and Prize for the sustained leadership and strategic development of the UK's multi-disciplinary Central Laser Facility and his pioneering developments in and high-energy, high-average power lasers.

  • Professor Richard Ellis receives the Michael Faraday Medal and Prize for over 35 years of pioneering contributions in faint-object astronomy, often with instruments he funded and constructed, which have opened up the early universe to direct observations.

  • Professor Carlos S Frenk receives the Paul Dirac Medal and Prize for outstanding contributions to establishing the current standard model for the formation of all cosmic structure, and for leading computational cosmology within the UK for more than three decades.

  • Dr Drew Nelson receives the Katharine Burr Blodgett Medal and Prize for pioneering efforts in commercialising compound semiconductor materials, and promoting the UK as the global leader in this field.

Read more about our Gold Medals.

Silver Subject Medals

Our Silver Subject Medals are awarded annually to recognise and reward distinguished contributions to physics.

Image of Rosalind Franklin Medal

Silver Subject Medal winners 2020

  • Professor Mete Atatüre receives the Thomas Young Medal and Prize for his pioneering contributions to quantum optical phenomena in semiconductors and diamond, creating exciting applications in quantum technologies.

  • Professor David James Stuart Birch receives the Dennis Gabor Medal and Prize for pioneering the UK fluorescence lifetime industry through research publications and the market-leading company IBH, which he cofounded, contributing to sales totalling hundreds of millions of pounds.

  • Professor Richard Bowtell receives the James Joule Medal and Prize for his outstanding application of physics to the innovative development of new hardware and techniques for biomedical imaging, and their application in medicine and neuroscience.

  • Paul Chambers receives the Marie Curie-Sklodowska Medal and Prize for his long service to and shaping of physics and science education in Scotland through training teachers to engage in critical research-led pedagogy and practical teaching.

  • Professor William Chaplin receives the Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize for revolutionary progress in the understanding of the stellar interiors of stars, through his leadership of the solar-type asteroseismology programme of the NASA Kepler mission.

  • Professor Michael Charlton receives the Joseph Thomson Medal and Prize for scientific leadership in antimatter science, particularly within the ATHENA and ALPHA collaborations, and the formation and study of antihydrogen, including precision two-photon spectroscopy of the 1S–2S transition.

  • Professor Laurence Eaves receives the Nevill Mott Medal and Prize for his outstanding contributions to the investigations of fundamental electronic properties of quantum-confined systems and their applications in devices.

  • Dr Edward Gomez receives the Lise Meitner Medal and Prize for substantial contributions to physics engagement and raising aspirations of children via public lectures, science comic books and the creation of interactive, innovative resources used in classrooms worldwide.

  • Professor Penny Anne Gowland receives the Peter Mansfield Medal and Prize for being an outstanding world-class scientist who has made major contributions in developing novel techniques for quantitative Magnetic Resonance Imaging to enable innovative, non-invasive investigations into human anatomy, physiology and biology.

  • Professor Geoffrey Hall receives the James Chadwick Medal and Prize for his pioneering work in developing silicon detectors and front-end electronics for particle physics experiments, especially in crucial radiation-hard applications, critical for the observation of the Higgs boson in 2012.

  • Dame Julia Higgins receives the Sam Edwards Medal and Prize for her pioneering work in neutron scattering applied to the understanding of polymer structure and dynamics.

  • Professor Simon Hooker receives the Cecelia Payne-Gaposchkin Medal and Prize for pioneering contributions to the development of high-power plasma waveguides and their application to laser-driven plasma accelerators.

  • The Physics of Life UK Network (PoLNET) steering group receives the Rosalind Franklin Medal and Prize for the contributions made to catalysing the substantive growth of the Physics of Life community in the UK by stimulating new, adventurous partnerships between multiple researchers in UK biological physics.

  • Professor Adam Scaife receives the Edward Appleton Medal and Prize for pioneering work on computer simulation and long-range prediction of the atmosphere.

  • Professor Alexander Shluger receives the David Tabor Medal and Prize for the development of new theoretical models of defects at the surfaces and interfaces of insulators and mechanisms of imaging and manipulation of surface atoms and molecules using atomic force microscopy.

  • Professor Kellogg Stelle receives the John William Strutt, Lord Rayleigh Medal and Prize for his seminal contributions to fundamental physics: the first quantum theory of gravity, the construction of braneworld cosmologies, and the discovery of the supermembrane and fundamental work on supersymmetric field theories and supergravity.

Read more about our Silver Subject Medals.

Bronze Early Career Medals

Our Bronze Early Career medals are for exceptional physicists in the early stages of their careers.

Image of Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal

Bronze Early Career Medal winners 2020

  • Bethan Cornell receives the Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize for her cross-disciplinary work in atomistic and molecular modelling, her contribution to improving gender balance and supporting minority groups in physics, and for promoting the interests of early career researchers.

  • Kirk Duroe receives the Clifford Paterson Medal and Prize for the production and delivery of expert technical advice to the government to facilitate improved understanding of performance and operational benefits to be derived from planned upgrades to UK radiation portals.

  • Dr Brianna Heazlewood receives the Henry Moseley Medal and Prize for her outstanding contributions to the development of novel experimental techniques and computational modelling for studying the dynamics and mechanisms of reactive collisions at extremely low temperatures.

  • Emma Russo receives the Daphne Jackson Medal and Prize for her championing of girls' further study of physics through the creation of events for girls and their parents, and for her advocacy of girls' STEM education with educators internationally.

  • Dr Becky Smethurst receives the Mary Somerville Medal and Prize for engaging a diverse, global audience with complex astrophysical ideas presented at an accessible level with a large dose of enthusiasm on the YouTube channel Dr. Becky.

  • Dr Curt von Keyserlingk receives the James Clerk Maxwell Medal and Prize for remarkable discoveries in non-equilibrium physics, including the discovery of new families of driven phases of matter, and revealing the unexpected manner in which information spreads in quantum many-body systems.

Read more about our Bronze Early Career Medals.

Phillips Award

This award is for distinguished service to the IOP.

Phillips Award winners 2020

  • Gail Elizabeth Millar wins for her voluntary creation and development of Girls into Physics events across Scotland, tireless work as the IOP Scotland secretary and ensuring the continuation of the retired members network in the country.

  • Vincent Smith wins for his outstanding contributions to the IOP, its south-west branch and its History of Physics Group, and other contributions to physics, including lectures for schools.

Read more about our Phillips Award.

Teachers of Physics Award

These awards celebrate the success of secondary school physics teachers who have raised the profile of physics and science in schools.

A physics teacher with students in a classroom

Read more about our Teachers of Physics Award.

Honorary Fellows

Our Honorary Fellowships acknowledge physicists who have contributed to physics generally or to the work of the IOP.

Honorary Fellows 2020

In 2020 Honorary Fellowships have been conferred upon:

  • Rachael Buckley for her outstanding technical contributions to the development of operational particle accelerators and accelerator test facilities, and her role in the recruitment and training of a growing cohort of apprentices.

  • Paul Cook for his excellent work as a science technician in the education sector and his diligent work with students through numerous outreach workshops and projects.

  • Professor John Ellis for his outstanding work in theoretical particle physics and cosmology, his encouragement and support of scientists from countries across the world seeking international collaboration, and his outreach work inspiring the public.

  • Professor Brian Foster for his leadership of experimental particle physics internationally and, in the United Kingdom, for the promotion of physics both by novel public engagement and high-level involvement in learned society activities.

  • Professor Julian Jones for his outstanding contributions to research in optical fibre sensors, optical instrumentation and laser-material interactions, and his ongoing and exceptional service to the Institute of Physics and IOP Publishing.

  • Professor Brian MacCraith for his outstanding contribution to the development of research in sensor physics and his continued leadership and contributions to excellence in physics and science education.

    Read more about our Honorary Fellows.

    Business Awards

    The IOP Business Awards recognise and celebrate companies that have excelled in innovation, delivering significant economic and/or societal impact through the application of physics.

    Read more about our Business Awards.

    Technician Award

    The IOP Technician Award highlights the diverse role of technicians in education, research and industry.

    A science technician in a lab

    Technician Award winners 2020

    • Anthony Clarkson wins for his pioneering contribution towards the industrial deployment of cosmic-ray muography technology and his outstanding, ongoing contributions to high-energy, fundamental nuclear physics experiments across the globe.

    • The Cryogenics and Clean Room Technical Team at the University of St Andrews win for their outstanding service and the delivery of significant improvements to the helium recovery, storage and liquification system ensuring the long-term sustainability of low temperature condensed-matter research.

    • Andrea Dawson wins for her outstanding contribution to physics at Newcastle University transforming it from a building site to its flourishing physics programme with state-of-the-art physics teaching laboratories.

    • Warda Heetun wins for her outstanding contributions to measurement science and establishing the world's first standard for quantitative nuclear medicine imaging.

    • Dr Siobhan Liddle wins for exceptional passion for physics and for promoting physics to her school and wider community.

    Read more about our Technician Award.

    Apprentice Award

    This new award enables the community to recognise and celebrate the skills and experiences of science and engineering apprentices.

    A female physics apprentice at work

    Apprentice Award winner 2020

    • Jamie Mewburn-Crook wins for producing bone-tissue-equivalent thermoplastic and his support in developing a 3D-printed full-sized pelvis phantom employing this material to test prototype gamma-ray detection probes for cancer treatments.

    Read more about our Apprentice Award.

    Apprentice Employer Award

    This prize enables the IOP to recognise employers that demonstrate their commitment and contribution to scientific and engineering apprenticeship schemes.

    Employer with an apprentice

    Apprentice Employer Award winners 2020

    • AWE plc has been recognised for developing future talent through its apprenticeship programme, using its specialist training workshops and highly skilled instructor cadre for almost 70 years. It is proud of the critical role apprentices play in the delivery of its vital mission.

    • The Science and Technology Facilities Council has been recognised for providing a wide range of apprenticeships across the country, giving young people and adults the opportunity to expand their knowledge and confidence whilst being trained in exceptional facilities.

    Read more about our Apprentice Employer Award