Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Image of Dame Jocelyn Bell BurnellDame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was born and brought up in Northern Ireland; there she started her academic career by failing the Northern Ireland equivalent of the 11+. After gaining a creditable number of O and A levels at school in England she went on to read a Physics degree at Glasgow University. This was followed by a PhD in Cambridge in Radio Astronomy. During her time in Cambridge, she was involved in the discovery of pulsars, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work which was recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She worked part-time while raising a family and followed her husband around the UK, working in many branches of astronomy in many capacities. She has used telescopes flown on high-altitude balloons, launched on rockets and carried on satellites, and built a radio telescope which was firmly grounded in Cambridgeshire. Later in her career, she could be found in Hawaii panting for breath at 14000' and using the UK's infrared or millimetre waveband telescopes.

Dame Jocelyn has received many prestigious prizes and awards including an Honorary DSc from the University of Dublin (2008). She was made a CBE in 1999, an FRS in 2003, an FRSE in 2004 and was elected a Foreign Associate of the US National Academy of Sciences in 2005. In 2007 she was made a DBE and in 2012 the Royal Irish Academy made her an Honorary Fellow. From 2008-2011 she was the first female President of the Institute of Physics of the UK and Ireland.

The public appreciation and understanding of science have always been important to her, and she is much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster. Her appointment at the Open University doubled the number of female professors of physics in the UK. She hopes that her presence as a senior woman in science will encourage more women to consider a career in science.

In her spare time, Dame Jocelyn walks, gardens, listens to choral music and is active in the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme - Dark Matter; Poems of Space.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was elected Pro-Chancellor of the University in 2013.