press release
Published: 07 July 2020

Surrey to welcome Bell Burnell Graduate Scholar

The Institute of Physics (IOP) has awarded a prestigious Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship to Joanna Sakowska, who will start her PhD at the University of Surrey in October 2020 under the supervision of Dr Noelia E. D. Noël, Lecturer in Astrophysics.

Telescope on hill at night with stars shining

The Scholarship will support Ms Sakowska’s doctoral astrophysics research project at Surrey. She is one of four recipients of the scholarship.

Dr Noël said: “Joanna will work on understanding the nature of the smallest galaxies in the Universe – “ultra-faint” dwarf galaxies. The analysis of new observational data, together with in-house models, will provide the first quantitative picture of their formation and evolution, as well as placing exciting new constraints on the nature of the elusive dark matter.”

The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund  was set up to encourage diversity in physics by assisting talented students from under-represented groups to study PhD physics.

Dame Jocelyn was awarded the 2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her role in the discovery of pulsars, and donated her £2.3m Breakthrough prize money to the Institute of Physics to set up the Fund. 

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, in 2017/18, just 23% of physics undergraduate students were female.

Professor Justin Read, Head of the Department of Physics at the University of Surrey, said: “In the Department of Physics, we are committed to fostering an environment that is diverse and inclusive, ensuring equal opportunities for all. This fellowship, launched by Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the IOP this year, is an important and vital step towards achieving this goal. We are delighted to welcome Joanna to the Department and look forward to the exciting scientific advances that will come out of her prestigious fellowship award.”

Joanna Sakowska, said: "I am delighted to have won this prestigious award! I believe I can be a good ambassador for STEM students who may not have had the appropriate support; through my mentoring, I will help them to recognise what they are capable of.”

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