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IOP Awards: meet the winners

Winning an IOP award is a big achievement and often a career highlight. Here we meet some of the winners from 2020, who explain the impact that being an award winner has had on them personally, their career and their future.


IOP Phillips Award Winner 2020: Gail Millar

Gail Millar

What does being an IOP award winner mean to you?

As an IOP award winner I feel very proud that my work has been recognised by my peers. I am a quiet, non-self-promoting person, and to have my work recognised as being worthwhile and an asset to the IOP community is a positive experience and a reward in itself.

How has being an IOP award winner positively impacted you personally, your career, your discipline, the physics community or even society?

Winning the Phillips Award has made me more confident approaching organisations to help me with my volunteer work promoting physics. Although retired from employment, I often go into primary schools to do physics experiments and I find that staff are interested to find out about the award so that they can tell their classes. Having encouraged my three daughters to study physics, I now share my enjoyment of physics with my pre-school grandchildren – the next generation of physicists!

What words of encouragement would you give to others who are thinking of nominating their peers or themselves in the future?

If you are considering nominating a colleague for an award then I would urge you to do this. Your colleague will gain much from the nomination – realisation that their work is recognised and positive feedback that their efforts are seen by others. The process is not difficult, and whether the nomination is for a colleague or yourself, the impact of taking the time to do this can be enormous.

IOP Teachers of Physics Award Winner 2020: Estralita (Esther) McCall

A headshot of smiling Estralita McCall

What does being an IOP award winner mean to you?

It is a great honour to be an IOP award winner. I am naturally reserved and so am absolutely thrilled to have had my achievements recognised. To be recognised by such a prestigious professional organisation for the work I have done in my teaching career is like icing on the cake.

How has being an IOP award winner positively impacted you personally, your career, your discipline, the physics community or even society?

It has raised the profile of physics with the students, colleagues, and people with whom I interact. The local paper did a short piece covering my award, and many people, including local shop assistants I only know by sight, stopped to congratulate me on the award!

“Physics needs to be promoted, especially among women.”

What words of encouragement would you give to others who are thinking of nominating their peers or themselves in the future?

Do not hesitate to make a nomination, whether this is for yourself or a colleague. Physics needs to be promoted, especially among women. There are many good teachers out there and they need to be recognised for the work that they are doing.

IOP Technician Award Winner 2020: Warda Heetun

Warda Heetun

What does being an IOP award winner mean to you?

My IOP Technician Award is very close to my heart. It is a tangible achievement which I can look to and shows that the hard work I strive to put into my work is recognised in the physics community, both inside and outside of my employment.

How has being an IOP award winner positively impacted you personally, your career, your discipline, the physics community or even society?

The IOP Technician Award has increased my visibility and credibility on professional platforms like LinkedIn. I have received more opportunities in business since obtaining the award. Furthermore, I feel it increases my chances of winning other awards and fellowships, because belonging to a professional body demonstrates recognised competence.

What words of encouragement would you give to others who are thinking of nominating their peers or themselves in the future?

I would highly recommend applying yourself or nominating peers for the award, particularly those in the early stages of their career. Achievements like these will inject a new drive to succeed and you have nothing to lose by trying.