RAS awards go to IOP Honorary Fellows and Members

12 January 2018

The Royal Astronomical Society has awarded medals and lectures to two of our Honorary Fellows and two of our Members, including a Gold Medal to our Honorary Fellow Professor James Hough.

RAS awards go to IOP Honorary Fellows and Members

Professor Hough is one of two people to be awarded the RAS’s highest honour, its Gold Medal, this year. Professor Hough, who is emeritus holder of the Kelvin Chair of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow, has been awarded the Gold Medal for Astronomy for his seminal contribution to the science of gravitational waves. He developed many of the key technologies and experimental techniques, over four decades, that made the first direct detection of gravitational waves possible.

They were first detected by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO). Working as part of the UK/German GEO600 team, Professor Hough developed sophisticated mirror suspensions that enabled LIGO to reach the sensitivity required for the discovery and his contributions had a critical impact within LIGO.

He is the author of more than 300 journal papers and, throughout his career, has combined academic research and teaching with the promotion of science and education in the United Kingdom and Europe. He was made an IOP Honorary Fellow in 2016, has previously served as a Trustee on the Institute’s Council and received our Phillips Award in 2015.

RAS awards go to IOP Honorary Fellows and Members
Queen's University Belfast

IOP Member Dr David Jess is to receive the Fowler Award for Geophysics of the RAS. An early-career researcher at Queen's University Belfast who is a leading international expert in solar physics, he has dramatically improved the international understanding of wave processes occurring within the Sun’s atmosphere. This has been achieved through his design, construction and implementation of state-of-the-art high-cadence imaging instrumentation to allow such studies to be undertaken, followed by the analysis and interpretation of cutting-edge datasets.

He has also made substantial contributions to the study of solar flare characteristics, solar feature tracking, solar EUV spectroscopy and cool-star variability. Dr Jess has already made a major impact on international solar physics research and his achievements and dedication have been recognised by a number of awards and prizes.

RAS awards go to IOP Honorary Fellows and Members
Festival della Scienza

Lord Rees of Ludlow, an IOP Honorary Fellow, has been awarded the RAS’s Gerald Whitrow Lecture. He has been Astronomer Royal since 1995 and is one of the most distinguished theoretical astrophysicists of his generation. He has made transformational contributions across a diverse range of subjects, from accretion discs around stellar black holes to quasars, radio galaxies, gamma-ray bursts and cosmology.

His ideas laid the foundations for the modern understanding of galaxy formation, he carried out one of the first calculations of temperature anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background and he is a pioneer of the current cosmological paradigm, the cold dark matter model.

He has written more than 450 research papers, has supervised a large number of PhD students and inspired many more. He is the author of 10 popular books and has written and spoken extensively about the wider implications of science and cosmology for human civilisation. He has appeared in many radio and television programmes and sits in the House of Lords where he is an effective advocate for science.

RAS awards go to IOP Honorary Fellows and Members
University of Lancaster

IOP Member Professor James Wild, a researcher in Space Plasma Physics at the University of Lancaster, has been awarded the RAS’s James Dungey Lectureship. Having written his doctoral thesis on the electrodynamics of the nightside auroral ionosphere, he has moved on to a number of different research areas including the study of the dayside plasma environment of near-Earth space and the coupling between the solar wind, magnetosphere and ionosphere using ground based radar observations by SuperDARN and in situ field and plasma measurements from Earth orbiting satellites.

In the course of his research, he has developed expertise in state-of-the-art computer models of the Earth’s magnetic field and has applied this to the modelling of Alfvén waves in the Earth’s magnetosphere and, via scaling of a terrestrial magnetosphere model, to Saturn.

His current research is focused on understanding the space environment and the links between the Sun, the Earth and other planets, notably Mars. He studies the physics behind the aurora borealis, the impact of space weather on human technology and the interaction between the Martian atmosphere and the interplanetary environment.