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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

College alumnae honoured by the Royal Society

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    24 August 2021

    The Royal Society is a Fellowship of many of the world's most eminent scientists and is the oldest scientific academy in continuous existence. Each year the Royal Society honours the achievements of researchers with medals and prizes. Among the award winners this year are two alumnae and Honorary Fellows of Murray Edwards College – New Hall, whom the Royal Society recognised for their exceptional research and outstanding contributions to science.

    Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell

    Jocelyn Bell Burnell portrait by Julia HedgecoeProfessor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (NH 1965) has been awarded the world’s oldest scientific prize, the Royal Society’s prestigious Copley Medal.

    Dame Jocelyn is recognised for her work on the discovery of pulsars while a postgraduate at New Hall, one of the major astronomical advances of the 20th century. She becomes the second woman to be awarded the Copley Medal, joining past winners including Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin.


    Dame Jocelyn said:

    I am delighted to be the recipient of this year’s Copley Medal, a prize which has been awarded to so many incredible scientists. With many more women having successful careers in science, and gaining recognition for their transformational work, I hope there will be many more female Copley winners in the near future.

    My career has not fitted a conventional – male – pattern. Being the first person to identify pulsars would be the highlight of any career; but I have also swung sledgehammers and built radio telescopes; set up a successful group of my own studying binary stars; and was the first female president of the Institute of Physics and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. I hope that my work and presence as a senior woman in science continues to encourage more women to pursue scientific careers.

    Dr Serena Nik-Zainal

    Serena Nik-ZainalDr Serena Nik-Zainal (NH 1995) has been awarded the Francis Crick Medal and Lecture 2022 for enormous contributions to understanding the aetiology of cancers by her analyses of mutation signatures in cancer genomes, which is now being applied to cancer therapy.

    Dr Nik-Zainal will receive a medal of bronze, and a gift of £2,000 at the associated prize lecture in 2022.




    Dr Nik-Zainal said:

    [I am] thrilled and hugely grateful for this immense honour. Thank you to all that have taught, supported, pushed and mentored me.

    You can listen to our recent interview about Dr Nik-Zainal about her career and the experiences which have shaped her on our podcast ‘Shaped By’.