Awards, Medals and Prizes
Fowler Award (G)
The Fowler Awards for Early Achievement in Astronomy and Geophysics were established in 2004 through the generosity of Mrs Rosemary Fowler. Two annual prizes are awarded to individuals who have made a particularly noteworthy contribution to these two sciences at an early stage of their research career. The two prizes are known as the Fowler Awards, after Ralph and Peter Fowler, two of the Royal Astronomical Society's most distinguished Fellows, who were father and son; and after Rosemary Fowler.
The Society wishes to recognise the achievements of the award winners sufficiently early to give impetus to the recipients’ careers. The scientists may be of any nationality, but, normally, significant parts of the work for which the award is made should have been carried out while the recipient was working in the UK or with facilities in which the UK has a recognised interest e.g. UK-supported observing time on telescopes. At the time of nomination candidates, in normal circumstances, should have completed their PhD (defined as passing the viva examination) no more than 10 years previously. However, this time limit will not restrict the award of the prize to an individual who has taken maternity or paternity leave, who has taken a career break, for example for family reasons, or who has followed another career path (e.g. was educated in a system outside the UK, came to scientific research as a mature individual etc.). This prize is currently £500.
History of the Award
P. G. Murdin
R. H. Fowler (1899–1944)
Sir Ralph Fowler was Plummer Professor of Mathematical Physics at Cambridge University. His first important astronomical work was in the application of pure mathematics (Emden's Equation) to stellar structure (see Fowler 1930). Out of his work on the Planck distribution came papers with E.A. Milne (Fowler & Milne 1923 and 1924), showing that Saha's Equation explained how absorption lines appeared, passed through a maximum and then disappeared as the temperature of a stellar atmosphere increases. In 1926 (at the age of 27), he read to the RAS his most original paper, 'On dense matter' (Fowler 1926), in which he showed that the material of white dwarf stars was a degenerate gas.
R. H. Fowler was a Fellow of the RAS (1922-44), a Fellow of the Royal Society (Royal Medallist 1936), and knighted in 1942 for services during World War II. He married Eileen, the only daughter of Ernest Rutherford, and they had four children, the oldest of them Peter Fowler. For an obituary see MNRAS, 105, 80 (1945).
P. H. Fowler (1923-1996)
Peter Fowler was Royal Society Research Professor at Bristol University. Very early in his research career he worked with Cyril Powell on the cosmic radiation, participating (at the age of 26) with his future wife Rosemary in the discovery of the tau meson (Brown et al. 1949). He flew numerous cosmic ray detection experiments in balloons and satellites and discovered light elements in the cosmic radiation (Dainton et al 1952) arising from fragmentation of primary cosmic rays. With the Ariel 6 satellite he identified r-process elements in ultra heavy cosmic rays. A highly multidisciplinary scientist, he was interested in meteorology and medical physics and at the time of his death was working on a neutron technique for measuring the temperature of geological specimens at a depth of several hundred km.
P. H. Fowler was a Fellow of the RAS (1967-96), a Council Member (1982-84) and Vice President (1984); he was a Fellow of the Royal Society (Hughes Medal 1974). In 1949 he married Rosemary Brown; they had three daughters. For an obituary see A&G 38, 36 (1997).
Rosemary Fowler is Peter Fowler's widow, and, herself a physicist, was one of the first women to gain a first in physics at Bristol University. A year ahead of Peter as an undergraduate, she helped him with physics problems. Under her maiden name Rosemary Brown, she worked with Cecil Powell and Peter on the discovery of the tau meson (Brown et al. 1949; Nobel Prize to Cecil Powell 1950). Later that year she married Peter and was happy to give up her own research to provide Peter with their family life and to support him in his achievements. Rosemary and Peter are the parents of Mary Fowler (Fellow of the Society since 1974, Council Member 1998-2000, Vice President 2000-2002).
Brown, R., et al., 1949, Nature, 163, 47; 163, 83.