British Astronomer Donates £2.3M Prize Winnings To Minorities So That They Can Become Scientists

British Astronomer Donates £2.3M Prize Winnings To Minorities So That They Can Become Scientists

One of Britain’s top astronomers — who happens to be a woman — has just won £2.3 million for a significant science prize.


And she is giving it all away again.


On September 6th, 2018, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was announced as the Breakthrough Prize's winner, for the discovery of what is known now as radio pulsars.


She stated that she was "speechless" and "taken aback."


But instead of keeping the winnings for herself, she is using them to help fund women, ethnic minorities, as well as refugee students — to help them become physics researchers.


As she told BBC News, she didn't need the money herself, so that seemed the best use she could put it to.


This is not the first award for the discovery of radio pulsars — a kind of neutron star which gives out a beam of radiation — has received either.


This discovery was also awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 1974. However, the award went to Bell Burnell’s male collaborators.


That is despite the fact she was the first to observe and analyze the pulsars, as reported by the BBC.


Bell Burnell was a research student at Cambridge University when the pulsars were discovered over 50 years ago. She noticed them while trawling through data from a radio telescope she had helped to build.


However, she now contributes her success to the fact she was a minority — and what is described as “imposter syndrome.”




Because she didn’t feel that she belonged and doubted that her achievements were good enough, Bell Burnell was working “really careful, really thoroughly,” which is why she spotted the “very, very small signal.”


She hopes that the new funding, as a result of her winnings, will help to tackle the “unconscious bias” that she says is still present in physics research jobs.




Reference: Global Citizen, BBC, The Guardian

British Astronomer Donates £2.3M Prize Winnings To Minorities So That They Can Become Scientists British Astronomer Donates £2.3M Prize Winnings To Minorities So That They Can Become Scientists Reviewed by Katerina Pap on 4:33 AM Rating: 5

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