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Discovery of Pulsars: A Graduate Student's Story

Join groundbreaking scientist Jocelyn Bell Burnell for a presentation on her accidental discovery of pulsars, or magnetized rotating neutron stars that emit pulsing radio waves, while a student at the University of Cambridge. Bell Burnell will also share stories of when other researchers nearly discovered pulsars. In recognition of the importance of her work, she received a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2018. Bell Burnell used the entirety of the $3 million prize to establish a scholarship for underrepresented students in physics research. This event is presented by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology.

About the Speaker

Since the 1960s, Bell Burnell has actively taken strides in furthering the education and research of astronomy. She has served as president of the Royal Astronomical Society as well as the first female president of both the Institute of Physics and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. Bell Burnell is a visiting professor of astrophysics at the University of Oxford, professorial fellow in physics at Mansfield College, Oxford, and chancellor of the University of Dundee. Among a number of prestigious awards and honors — including honorary degrees from 36 or more institutions — she received the Royal Astronomical Society's Herschel Medal in 1989 and, most recently, the $3 million 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery of pulsars and for her inspiring decades of scientific leadership.