Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is credited with one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the twentieth century for which her thesis advisor was awarded the Nobel Prize: that of the first radio pulsars. She went on to become the president of the Royal Astronomical Society in 2002, the first female president of the Institute of Physics in 2008 and in October 2014 she was appointed the first female president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. For her numerous contributions to the astrophysical community, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007 along with several other honours including (but not limited to) the Albert A. Michelson Medal, the J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Prize, and the Herschel Medal. In 2013, she was named one of the most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4. She is a strong supporter of women in physics, empowering women and serving as a remarkable role model.
Professor Sarah Thompson has been head of the Department of Physics at the University of York for six years and her research is in thin film magnetic materials and nano thermal imaging. She served on the Materials Science and then the Physical Sciences Strategic Advisory Teams of the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council for a total of nine years. She delivered the BA Kelvin Lecture, a Royal Society Summer Exhibition and won an Institute of Physics (IOP) Award for the Public Awareness of Physics. She was chair of the IOP's Yorkshire Branch for four years, during which time she established the World of Physics schools event. She has also served two terms on the IOP’s Magnetism Group.
Professor Sheila Rowan is a Professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Glasgow, where since 2009 she has led a team of around 70 researchers at the Institute for Gravitational Research. The research of her Institute is focussed on the study of gravitational waves from astrophysical sources - gravitational wave astronomy. Sheila’s personal research is targeted at developing optical materials for use in gravitational wave detectors. Her recent work has been a crucial part of the Advanced LIGO upgrades, carried out between 2010 and 2015, that contributed to one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of this century: the first detection of gravitational waves announced in February 2016. This resulted in a share of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her and the members of her team in Glasgow.
She was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser for Scotland in June 2016. This is a part-time position within the Scottish government to which she is seconded 3 days a week. Sheila also remains Director of the Institute for Gravitational Research.
Professor Heidy Mader studied Physics at York University. She then spent several years in industrial research for Cadbury’s studying chocolate flow problems such as aerated chocolate “Wispa”. She then returned to academia to do a PhD in the School of Physics at the University of Bristol where she focused on thermal properties of glacial ice. Afterwards, she became a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, where she studied volcanic explosions. This apparently random walk in science does have a theme, namely the flow of mixtures of phases (liquids, gases and solids)! ‘Multiphase flow’ is a hot topic in science because it is central to so many industrial and natural processes. After some time as a lecturer at Lancaster University, Heidy Mader returned to the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol, where she has been for last 20 years. Her group’s research is focused on the flow of volcanic eruptions to aid forecasting and hence the management of volcanic emergencies. Heidy Mader lives in central Bristol with her husband, Jon, who is a Professor of Mathematics, their two children, Rob (aged 18) and Miranda (aged 13), and a bearded collie called ‘Tess’.
Professor Erika Andersson received her PhD in physics from the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 2000. Following this, she held a Marie Curie Fellowship and a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. She joined Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, in 2007, where she became a full professor in 2015. Her research interests include quantum information science, in particular quantum measurements and quantum signatures, and open quantum systems. Erika Andersson is also an Associate Editor for Physical Review A. She is married with two children, and in her spare time she enjoys making music.
The after-dinner talk on Friday 24th March will be given by Professor John Roy Sambles F R S, F Inst. Professor Sambles is President of the Institute of Physics of UK and Ireland and Professor of Experimental Physics at The University of Exeter where he undertakes research on metasurfaces and directs the very large EPSRC-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Electromagnetic and Acoustic Metamaterials.