A very inspirational woman
Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell is creating a scholarship for women, refugees and minorities to study physics.
In 1974, Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s male PhD supervisor at the University of Cambridge won a Nobel Prize for a discovery that she was the first to notice. On Thursday, the 75-year-old acclaimed astrophysicist won a coveted science prize of her own ― the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
But instead of keeping the hefty $3 million award that comes with this distinction, Bell Burnell says she will be using it to help women, refugees, and other minority students follow in her footsteps and become physics researchers themselves.
She will be donating her prize money to the Institute of Physics to create scholarships for people from underrepresented groups, the Institute said in a statement.
Bell Burnell, a Quaker whose religion teaches simple living, claims she doesn’t need to have an extravagant lifestyle.
“I don’t want or need the money myself and it seemed to me that this was perhaps the best use I could put to it,” Bell Burnell told the BBC.
The award honors Bell Burnell for her discovery of pulsars ― neutron stars that emit electromagnetic radiation from their poles. These rapidly spinning radiation beams sweep past the Earth at regular intervals. The award also recognizes her “inspiring scientific leadership over the last five decades” according to a press release.
Bell Burnell first noticed pulsars during a routine data collection in 1967, with the help of a radio telescope she was in charge of monitoring at Cambridge. Her supervisor, Antony Hewish, ended up winning a Nobel prize for the discovery.
Back then, society functioned under the belief that scientific advancements were driven by men, Bell Burnell told the The Washington Post. Women, on the other hand, were expected to study cookery and needlework.