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Winners of the RAS thesis prizes

Last Updated on Friday, 14 July 2017 16:31
Published on Friday, 14 July 2017 11:02

White - small for webThe RAS is pleased to announce the winners of its prizes for the best PhD theses completed in the UK during 2016.


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. The prizes are sponsored by Oxford University Press (OUP), who also publish the RAS research journals



Michael Penston Prize

Alsing J - Michael PenstonDr Justin Alsing, winner of the 2016 Michael Penston Prize

The prize for the best thesis in astronomy and astrophysics is awarded to Dr Justin Alsing, for the thesis entitled 'Bayesian analysis of weak lensing'.


Justin was a undergraduate at Oxford University before moving to Imperial College London for his PhD, under the supervision of Alan Heavens and Andrew Jaffe. Justin is now a postdoctoral fellow at the new Flatiron Institute in New York City doing research on a wide range of topics from theoretical astrophysics and cosmology, astrostatistics and analysis of atmospheric and climate data.


The runners up were Dr Antonia Bevan, for the thesis entitled 'Dust-Affected Models of Characteristic Line Emission in Supernovae', and Dr Tom Louden, for the thesis entitled 'The composition and dynamics of exoplanet atmospheres'.



Keith Runcorn Prize

Mistry R - Keith Runcorn Dr Rishi Mistry, winner of the 2016 Keith Runcorn PrizeThe prize for the best thesis in geophysics and planetary science is awarded to Dr Rishi Mistry, for the thesis entitled 'Magnetic reconnection exhausts in the solar wind'.


Rishi completed his undergraduate degree in Physics at Imperial College in 2013, before embarking on a PhD in magnetic reconnection within the solar wind, under the supervision of Jonathan Eastwood. During his PhD he worked on the analysis of plasma measurements of magnetic fields and particles in the solar wind, using the ACE, Wind and Cluster missions, and making comparisons with the results of kinetic reconnection simulations. He has recently extended key findings from his thesis to the analysis of reconnection exhausts within Earth’s magnetosheath, using observations from NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale mission.


The runner up was Dr Robert Green, for the thesis entitled 'The Structure and Seismicity of Icelandic Rifts'.



Patricia Tomkins Prize

Aujogue K - Patricia TomkinsDr Kélig Aujogue, winner of the 2016 Patricia Tomkins Prize

The prize for the best thesis in instrumentation science for astronomy and geophysics is awarded to Dr Kélig Aujogue, for the thesis entitled 'Little Earth Experiment: A Journey toward the Earth’s Tangent Cylinder'.


Kélig completed his PhD at Coventry University, and carried on the experimental campaign at the Laboratoire National des Champs Magnétiques Intenses (LNCMI) in Grenoble, France, where he was using a 10 Tesla magnet. His aim is to keep investigating experimentally the dynamo process in the Earth's core by introducing non-conventional techniques for flow analysis to geophysics.




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 2017 prizes will be sought in January 2018.