Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell (b. 1943) is an astrophysicist from Northern Ireland, who was the first to discover radio pulsars. Despite the fact that it was her research that led to the first observation and analysis of the pulsars, it was her supervisor, Antony Hewish, who received the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics for the breakthrough discovery.

Growing up in Northern Ireland, she was only allowed to study science at school after her parents and others protested against the exclusion of female students from such subjects. She obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge, and went on to become the President of the Royal Astronomical Society and of the Institute of Physics. In 2014 she became President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the first woman to hold the position.

She was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2018, and used all of the £2.3 million to help female, minority and refugee students become physics researchers.

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