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Culture, history and society

Women in Physics Group

This is an IOP special interest group, which is a community of IOP members focused on a particular discipline, application or area of interest. 

Special interest groups allow members to connect and share knowledge and ideas. The IOP funds groups to deliver a range of activities including events, prizes and bursaries. All of our groups are driven by members.  

About the group

As a special interest, member-driven group, we encourage group members to participate in the IOP’s activities and support career progress with professional development.

We reflect the varied careers of women physicists in:

  • industry
  • teaching
  • research
  • academia
  • commerce

What the group does

Our current interests include:

  • career breaks
  • career management workshops
  • networking in the UK and Europe
  • education at primary, secondary and tertiary level
  • women in research and academia – especially those on short-term contracts

We welcome new members and suggestions for future events. Come and join us to contribute to our discussions.

Socialise, network and find out more about our group on Facebook.

What does it mean to be a member of the group?

  • part of community
  • visibility and access to tailored resources and opportunities
  • attend events and share relevant resources and events with your network

What does it mean to be a member of the committee?

  • volunteer to organise and support committee
  • represent and advocate WiP and diversity to IOP as a whole
  • run tailored events throughout the year

Joining an IOP special interest group

For non-IOP members: Become a member now

For IOP members: Find out how to join a group

Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize

This award was established as a Women in Physics Group Prize in 2007 and was originally known as the Very Early Career Female Physicist Award. In 2016 Council incorporated the award into the IOP awards programme and subsequently renamed it the Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize.

The award is for women at the start of their careers who have made a substantial contribution to physics and who support and encourage others in the field.

The prize is £1,000. The winner also receives a bronze medal and a certificate.

An annual in-person celebratory ceremony is held where finalists are invited to present their work and winners are announced.

Nominees for the award must:

  • be women
  • have completed their first undergraduate (bachelor’s or master’s) degree in physics less than five years ago (not including career breaks)
  • be making a substantial contribution to physics
  • be working to support and encourage others in the field
  • be working in a physics-based role e.g. researcher, graduate trainee or teacher, or engaged in postgraduate study in physics
  • have their undergraduate degree listed on We consider nominees with non-UK degrees on a case-by-case basis

Past winners and finalists


Winner: Amy Smith, Imperial College London
Finalist: Charlotte Avery, University of Bath
Finalist: Leanne Durkan, University College Dublin


Winner: Sara Motaghian, Natural History Museum London
Finalist: Gemma Howarth, Sellafield Ltd


Winner: Bethan Cornell, King’s College London
Finalist: Hannah Currivan, Réaltra Space Systems Engineering
Finalist: Anuradha Damale, UK Students for The Exploration and Development of Space
Finalist: Martha Hilton, University of Manchester/CERN
Finalist: Bonnie Tsim, National Graphene Institute, University of Manchester

Learn more about previous winners

Annual conference and events

Find events for the Women in Physics Group

Previous events

We have archived past events organised by the Women in Physics Group.

Learn more about previous group events

Newsletters and physics publications

2023 IOP Michael Faraday Medal and Prize winner


Useful links

Committee and contacts

ChairMiss Dawn Watson, CPhys FInstP
SecretaryDr Josie Coltman, CPhys MInstP
TreasurerDr Tracey Berry, FInstP
Ordinary MemberMiss Katherine Chippendale, MInstP
Co-opted MemberMiss Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, MInstP
Ordinary MemberMiss Jannat Khan, MInstP
Co-opted MemberDr Katherine Kirk, CPhys FInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Jessica Maclean, MInstP
Ordinary MemberMiss Carly Muldoon, MInstP
Co-opted MemberMr Jonathan Pugh, MInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Juna Sathian, MInstP
Ordinary MemberMrs Rizwana Shelley, CPhys MInstP
Ordinary MemberDr Sarah Williams, MInstP
Early Career PhysicistMx Charlotte Vale, MInstP

Email: [email protected]

Advisory panel members 

Professor Dame S Jocelyn Bell Burnell

DBE FRS FRSE. Former President of the Institute of Physics (2008 to 2010), University of Oxford

Professor Philippa Browning

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester

Professor Dame Athene Donald

DBE FRS. Professor of Experimental Physics, University of Cambridge

Professor Brian R Fulton

Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, University of York, Chair of the IOP Juno Panel

Dr Barbara J Gabrys

University of Oxford, Chair of the IOP Diversity and Inclusion Committee

Professor Gillian Gehring

OBE. Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of Sheffield, Team Leader ICWIP 2002, EPWS BoA to 2009

Professor Helen Gleeson

OBE. Cavendish Professor of Physics, University of Leeds

Professor Dame Julia Higgins

DBE FRS FREng. Emeritus Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London

Professor Jessica James

Commerzbank, Head of Quantitative Solutions

Professor Averil Macdonald

FRSA. Professor of Science Communication, University of Reading

Professor Peter Main

Head of Department of Physics, Institute of Physics

Professor Andrew Randewich

Chief Scientist, AWE

Professor Elaine Seddon

University of Manchester and Cockcroft Institute Daresbury

Dr Uschi Steigenberger

Rutherford Appleton Laboratory STFC 

Elizabeth Whitelegg

Open University

Professor Julia Yeomans

University of Oxford, Team leader ICWiP 2005, EPS Council

The Physics Benevolent Fund

Support for members, or their dependants, during unemployment, ill-health or a career break.

Find out more about the fund

IOP Accessibility Fund

Up to £250 for members who could not otherwise go to an event or conference because they are a parent or carer.

Find out more about the Accessibility Fund

Dismantling barriers to inclusion in physics

We’re working to ensure that young people from currently under-represented and underserved groups in physics get the chances they deserve.

Join us