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Winners of the RAS 2017 thesis prizes

Last Updated on Friday, 01 June 2018 13:11
Published on Friday, 01 June 2018 10:29

White - small for webThe RAS is pleased to announce the winners of its prizes for the best PhD theses completed in the UK during 2017.


Prizes are awarded annually: the Michael Penston Prize for the best thesis in astronomy and astrophysics, the Keith Runcorn Prize for the best thesis in geophysics and planetary science, and the Patricia Tomkins Prize for the best thesis in instrumentation science for astronomy and geophysics. 


Michael Penston Prize

Sownak BoseDr Sownak Bose, winner of the 2017 Michael Penston Prize

The prize for the best thesis in astronomy and astrophysics is awarded to Dr Sownak Bose, for the thesis entitled 'BEYOND LCDM: Exploring alternatives to the standard cosmological paradigm'.


After receiving his undergraduate degree in Physics from the University of Oxford, Sownak moved to the Institute for Computational Cosmology, Durham University to pursue a PhD in computational cosmology under the supervision of Prof. Carlos Frenk, Dr Baojiu Li and Prof. Adrian Jenkins. As of September 2017, he is now a postdoc at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (Cambridge, MA) where he is an ITC Fellow. His current research spans a wide array of subjects, ranging from the study of dark matter, dark energy and galaxy formation on cosmological scales, to the dynamics of dwarf galaxies and globular clusters on galactic scales.


The runner up were Dr Ivan Cabrera-Ziri, for the thesis entitled 'Constraining the Origin of Multiple Stellar Populations within Stellar Clusters'.


Keith Runcorn Prize

Jenny JenkinsDr Jenny Jenkins, winner of the 2017 Keith Runcorn PrizeThe prize for the best thesis in geophysics and planetary science is awarded to Dr Jennifer Jenkins, for the thesis entitled 'The seismic signature of the Iceland mantle plume from crust to mid-mantle'.


Jennifer studied an undergraduate degree in geophysics and geology at the university of Liverpool, where the excellent research lead teaching and ability to participate in a geophysics research project in her final year inspired her to apply for PhDs. She studied for her PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she worked with Prof. Arwen Deuss, Prof. Robert White and Dr Sanne Cottaar on observational deep earth seismology, mainly focussed in Iceland. She is now working as a post-doctoral researcher in GFZ Potsdam, focussing on shallower tectonic structure around the Marmara sea region of Turkey. She is hoping to continue her career in academia, both in terms of further researching the implications of some of the enigmatic deep mantle observations discovered during her PhD research as well as participating more in outreach and teaching.


The runners up were Dr Rohini Giles, for the thesis entitled 'Jupiter's tropospheric composition and cloud structure from 5-μm spectroscopy', and Dr Nadine Kalmoni, 'The role of magnetospheric plasma instabilities in auroral and substorm dynamics'.


Patricia Tomkins Prize

PhotoDr David Cuadrado-Calle, winner of the 2017 Patricia Tomkins Prize

The prize for the best thesis in instrumentation science for astronomy and geophysics is awarded to Dr David Cuadrado-Calle, for the thesis entitled 'Millimetre-Wave Low Noise Amplifiers for the ALMA Telescope'.


David received his BSc and MSc degrees in telecommunications engineering in 2010 and 2012 respectively, from the University of Alcalá, Spain, and his PhD degree in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2017, from the University of Manchester, UK under the supervision of Prof. Danielle George and Prof. Gary Fuller. In 2011, David joined the Yebes Observatory, Spain, for 14 months. His PhD project (2013-2017) consisted of developing Low Noise Amplifiers (LNAs) for the ALMA telescope. This work resulted in the production of LNAs covering the 67-116 GHz frequency range with record noise temperatures. In 2015/16 David was a visiting PhD researcher for six months at Caltech and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, US. In 2017/18 he was a postdoctoral research associate at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics of the University of Manchester. In June 2018, he started a new role as an RF engineer at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK.



The winners each receive £1,000 and an invitation to present their research to an Ordinary (A&G) Meeting of the RAS. The runners up each receive a £50 book token. Profiles of the winners and runners up will appear in a forthcoming issue of Astronomy & Geophysics.


Nominations for the 2018 prizes will be sought in January 2019.