Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund

25 March 2019

On Wednesday, 20 March 2019, The Institute of Physics announced the launch of The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship bursary scheme to support full or part-time graduate students who wish to study PhD physics and come from under-represented and minority groups.

The scholarship is made possible by the generous support of one of the world’s most notable female astronomers Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Visiting Professor, Department of Physics, University of Oxford. Professor Bell Burnell chose to donate her £2.3m Breakthrough Prize, awarded ‘for fundamental contributions to the discovery of pulsars, and a lifetime of inspiring leadership in the scientific community’, hopeful that it “will send a signal to those that are bright enough to become researchers but lack the confidence…. I never thought I'd have this kind of money, so it would be nice to enable those who want to - refugees and people from minority and other under-represented groups - to stay on and do PhDs."

The scheme aims to increase the number of female physics researchers in the UK from the current level of 22 percent to more than 30 percent in the next 10 years and will also support students from low socio-economic backgrounds and those who qualify for refugee status.

In an interview with Physics World Prof Bell Burnell said she hopes the scheme would bring more diversity into physics departments adding "I have been concerned about the shortage of women in physics for a very long time. I'm one of the founders of the Athena SWAN scheme which strives to support diversity in universities.”

Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of the Department of Physics, University of Oxford said: Jocelyn is an inspirational colleague; a wonderful human being with a profound sense of the common good. She is loved and admired by all of us in Oxford Physics. Jocelyn has a keen and prolonged awareness that despite good intentions and initiatives nationwide females, minorities, those from low socio-economic backgrounds, and refugees are all very under-represented in the physics departments of the UK. We are optimistic that the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarships will contribute significantly to improving this situation.

Professor Matt Jarvis, Chair of the Equality and Diversity Committee at the Department of Physics, University of Oxford said ““Oxford people are very lucky to have such an amazing and generous person like Jocelyn in the department, she is truly an inspiration for many of us. I can only hope that this encourages people from a much wider background to think about studying physics, as fundamentally science really benefits when we have people with different experiences, skills and perspectives all working together”

Read Jocelyn’s insightful and motivating interview with Physics World here and listen to how she aims to help 'physics thrive' here (IOP)

More Information
For more information on who can applyand the administering of the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund click here. The Fund is expected be open for applications towards the end of this year. Those who complete the Bell Burnell Fund interest form available here will receive updates as they become available.