RAS honours leading astronomers and geophysicists
The Royal Astronomical Society is pleased to announce the 2016 winners of its awards, medals and prizes. Each year the RAS recognises significant achievement in the fields of astronomy and geophysics through these awards.
The announcements were made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 8 January 2016. The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the Society's 2016 National Astronomy Meeting in June.
The Society's highest honour is its Gold Medal, which can be awarded for any reason but usually recognises lifetime achievement. Past winners include Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, Arthur Eddington and Stephen Hawking. It was first awarded in 1824; since 1964 two have been awarded each year: one for astronomy, and one for geophysics.
The winner of the Gold Medal in astronomy is Professor John Barrow of the University of Cambridge, in recognition of his work as a world-renowned theoretical cosmologist. He has authored more than 500 scientific papers over the last 35 years, ranging widely over topics such as cosmology, the synthesis of the elements in the early Universe, the origin of cosmic magnetic fields, limits on the time variation of physical constants and extensions of General Relativity.
Prof Barrow has been indefatigable in his passion to demonstrate the importance of our science within the general culture of mankind. He is known to a wide public through his popular, beautifully written and authoritative books - over twenty of them - on astronomy, mathematics and physics. ‘The Anthropic Cosmological Principle’, co-authored with Frank Tipler, is an acknowledged classic, and shows his concern for philosophical issues.
He is the only person since 1642 to be elected to two different Gresham Professorships, in his case those in Astronomy and Geometry. Since 1999, Professor Barrow has successfully led the Mathematics Millennium project, dedicated to the task - important for all sciences - of strengthening the teaching of mathematics in primary and secondary schools. He has been an extraordinary ambassador for science and mathematics, while maintaining a lifetime’s work investigating novel and stimulating ideas in cosmology.
The winner of the Gold Medal in geophysics is Professor Philip England of the University of Oxford, a highly respected solid earth geophysicist whose influence spans widely across the subject. His insight is mathematical - a search for ‘simple’ rules and scaling laws for underlying processes - but in the great tradition of experimental geophysics, he also has strong field experience. He has radically improved understanding of the way the Earth's surface and interior operate.
Professor England is now aiding scientists and social scientists to increase resilience and promote understanding of earthquake hazards, particularly amongst politicians and communities in the Alpine-Mediterranean-Himalayan countries. It is largely his influence and insight that led to the establishment of the major ‘Earthquakes Without Frontiers’ partnership of UK organisations with their equivalents in affected countries.
Professor Martin Barstow, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, offered his congratulations:
“The UK and indeed the whole world have a wealth of extraordinarily talented women and men working in astronomy and geophysics. Each year the Society marks their achievements with our awards and medals, something it gives me huge pleasure to announce. I am delighted to congratulate all the winners and wish them continued success in their scientific careers.”
The Society also awards a number of other medals and prizes; for more information on the awards and the achievements of the winners, see the full citation lists for astronomy and geophysics and for the Patrick Moore Medal.
List of winners
Awards are designated 'A' for astronomy (including astrophysics, cosmology etc.) and 'G' for geophysics (including solar physics, planetary science, solar-terrestrial physics etc.). Some awards are given in both fields. For images see the Awards Picture Gallery.
Awards, medals and prizes:
Eddington Medal (A)
Chapman Medal (G)
Price Medal (G)
Herschel Medal (A)
Jackson-Gwilt Medal (A)
Winton Capital Award
Group Achievement Award (G)
RAS Service Award
Patrick Moore Medal
Honorary Fellowship of the RAS
'Named' lectures to be delivered at a meeting of the Society:
George Darwin Lecturer
Gerald Whitrow Lecturer
Harold Jeffreys Lecturer
James Dungey Lecturer
Notes for editors
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.
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