Gold Medal for STFC supported Astronomer
12 Jan 2015



January 12th 2015 – A number of STFC supported astronomers are celebrating after being honoured by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in their annual awards for their work in geophysics and astronomy.Leading the Field is Professor Mike Lockwood from Rea


RAS Gold Medal (Credit: RAS)


January 12th 2015 – A number of STFC supported astronomers are celebrating after being honoured by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in their annual awards for their work in geophysics and astronomy.

Leading the Field is Professor Mike Lockwood from Reading University who has won the prestigious RAS Gold Medal in Geophysics for his work on the Earth's magnetosphere and ionosphere, the magnetic field of the Sun, and their influence on the terrestrial climate. Before moving to his current role at Reading University Mike worked at STFC’s RAL Space facility for over twenty years in this research area.

The Gold medal is the highest honour awarded by the RAS annually and is awarded for lifetime achievement. Past winners include Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Arthur Eddington and Stephen Hawking. Since 1964 two have been awarded each year: one for astronomy, and one for geophysics.

In its citation, the RAS described Professor Lockwood as internationally recognised in his field, making defining contributions in several different research areas, including the Sun and its influence on the Earth’s climate.

Commenting on his award, Professor Lockwood said: "All my work stems from the research I was able to do at STFC’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL). The UK had joined the EISCAT scientific association which developed and maintained world-leading upper-atmosphere radar facilities in northern Scandinavia. There were a large number of small user groups in the UK but no central group that could interface with EISCAT itself and so maximise the science exploitation. The RAL group grew into that role and through our research developed a number of observing and analysis techniques that put the UK in a uniquely strong position."

Professor John Womersley, Chief Executive of STFC said “It is incredibly pleasing to see so many of the astronomers that STFC has supported over many years receive this recognition from the RAS. The honours not only reinforce the importance of the inspiring and world-leading work coming out of the UK astronomical research community but also help to celebrate the sheer breadth and impact of their work"

Professor Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society and STFC Council member, offered his congratulations: “There are many exceptionally talented women and men working in astronomy and geophysics, here in the UK and across the world. Our medals and awards honour those who have made an outstanding contribution to these sciences. As President of the RAS, it gives me enormous pleasure to congratulate this year’s winners and to wish them continued success in all that they do.”

The winners announced by the RAS will collect their awards at the Society's 2015 National Astronomy Meeting in July.

A list of winners with a strong STFC link include:

  • Gold Medal (Geophysics): Professor Mike Lockwood, University of Reading and former member of STFC RAL Space

  • Herschel Medal (Astronomy): Professor Stephen Eales, University of Cardiff (Stephen has had a number of his projects funded by STFC)

  • Chapman Medal (Geophysics): Professor Alan Hood, University of St Andrews (is a member of the STFC Solar Advisory Panel)

  • Fowler Award (Astronomy): Dr Hayley Gomez, University of Cardiff (is a member of the STFC Astronomy Grants Panel)

  • Winton Capital Prize (Astronomy): Dr Michal Michalowski, University of Edinburgh (Based at the STFC co-funded Royal Observatory in Edinburgh)

  • RAS Group Achievement Award (Astronomy): e-MERLIN (led by Professor Simon Garrington and a project funded by STFC)

  • RAS Group Achievement Award (Geophysics): The Hinode EUV Imaging Spectrometer (EIS) team (led by Professor Louise Harra) This project has been supported by STFC for a number of years

The full list of winners can be viewed at the Royal Astronomical Society website (link opens in a new window).


Corinne Mosese
STFC Media Officer
Tel: 07557 317200
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