STFC-supported scientists awarded for geophysics and astronomy work
19 Jan 2016



A number of STFC-supported scientists are celebrating after being recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in its annual awards. The winners have all been acknowledged for their significant achievements in the fields of astronomy and geophysics


RAS Gold Medal​​

Credit: RAS
​ A number of STFC-supported scientists are celebrating after being recognised by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in its annual awards. The winners have all been acknowledged for their significant achievements in the fields of astronomy and geophysics and will be invited to collect their awards at the RAS's 2016 National Astronomy Meeting in June.

The award winners include Professor Bruce Swinyard who has been posthumously awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal for the significant contribution he made to astronomy. Professor Swinyard joined STFC’s RAL Space in 1987 and became a leading figure in the highly successful infrared astronomy programme. He was Calibration Scientist for the Long Wavelength Spectrometer on the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) which launched in 1995, and Instrument Scientist for the Spectral and Photometric Imaging Receiver (SPIRE) instrument on ESA’s Herschel spacecraft which launched in 2009.

Professor Swinyard was also a key player on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Mid - Infrared Instrument (MIRI) instrument, which is due for launch in 2018.

Professor Swinyard was Group Leader for RAL Space’s Astrophysics Group for over a decade, and in later years also held a joint appointment at University College London. He was an exceptional scientist.

Professor James Dunlop is an STFC-supported scientist from the University of Edinburgh and has been awarded the Herschel Medal for Astronomy.

Jim is a long time recipient of grants funding from STFC and has also frequently been a member of our boards and committees, including for the Gemini Observatory (link opens in a new window). He is one of the leading astronomers in the UK community, working to understand the history of star and dust formation in the high redshift universe. He is among those exploiting the European Southern Observatory’s ALMA facility, and the James Clerkwell Maxwell Telescope’s SCUBA-2 facility.

The Group Achievement Award for Geophysics went to the European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT) collaboration. The UK participation in EISCAT (link opens in a new window) is led by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). Support for UK users to access EISCAT is jointly delivered by NERC research centres, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS), through the existing NERC EISCAT UK Support Facility based at STFC’s RAL Space.

EISCAT consists of three radar systems in Northern Scandinavia, with current research focused on the influences of the Sun on the Earth's environment, including topics relevant to space weather, universal plasma processes, space debris and potential upper atmosphere influences on climate.

The full list of STFC-related winners is:

  • Eddington Medal (Astronomy): Professor Tony Bell, University of Oxford and STFC Astronomy Grant Panel member

  • Chapman Medal (Geophysics): Professor Philippa Browning, University of Manchester, STFC Astronomy Grant Panel member and Chair of STFC Solar System Sub-panel

  • Herschel Medal (Astronomy): Professor James Dunlop, University of Edinburgh

  • Jackson-Gwilt Medal (Astronomy): Professor Bruce Swinyard, University College London (Posthumous)

  • Group Achievement Award (Geophysics): The European Incoherent Scatter Scientific Association (EISCAT) collaboration

  • RAS Service Award (Astronomy): Professor Alan Wells, University of Leicester, an STFC-supported scientist

  • Honorary Fellowship of the RAS: Professor Alvio Renzini, INAF, Osservatorio Astronomico di Padova, Italy

‘Named’ lectures to be delivered at a meeting of the Society by individuals with a strong STFC connection include:

  • George Darwin Lecturer: Professor Michael Kramer, University of Manchester who has involvement in Square Kilometer Array and JIVE, the Joint Institute for VLBI.

  • Gerald Whitrow Lecturer: Dr Neil Turok, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Canada

Further information​

Royal Astronomical Society

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3900 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

Visit the RAS website (link opens in a new window).

Natural Environment Research Council

NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We co-ordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body. We receive around £330m of annual funding from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).

​For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries