Dr Becky recognised by IOP

29 October 2020

Headshot Becky Smethurst

Dr Becky Smethurst from the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics has been awarded the Mary Somerville Medal by the Institute of Physics. The medal, awarded for exceptional early career contributions to public engagement within physics, is in recognition of the success of Becky’s YouTube channel, Dr Becky.

Engaging a diverse, global audience

According to the IOP, the Dr Becky channel engages ‘a diverse, global audience with complex astrophysical ideas presented at an accessible level with a large dose of enthusiasm.’ The channel has some 175,000 subscribers and her weekly videos have clocked up more than 9 million views. Covering topics from dark matter to what it actually means to be an astrophysicist, Becky researches, produces and edits videos on a weekly basis alongside her research.

‘I started the channel so I could share my enthusiasm for what I do as an astrophysicist,’ she explains. ‘I want to inspire young people to think about following a career in science and I want to make the science that I study accessible to all. I am incredibly honoured to be awarded the Mary Somerville medal; my YouTube channel is a real labour of love for me and it is fantastic to have it recognised in this way.’

Breaking down stereotypes

Mary Somerville was one of the first women to be nominated to the Royal Astronomical Society and Dr Becky uses her platform to breakdown stereotypes of science and scientists. She is passionate about encouraging other young women into science: her ‘nailing science’ mini-series sees her talking science with a fellow researcher while doing nail art for example…

Along with her YouTube channel, Becky is a regular on BBC Radio Oxford and can often be heard on other national radio stations explaining breaking astronomy news.

‘Becky is a great asset not only to the Department of Physics but also to the field of astrophysics,’ comments Professor Ian Shipsey, Head of the Department of Physics. ‘She does fantastic work in engaging with so many different audiences and we are incredibly proud that her hard work has been recognised by the IOP.’

Find out more: https://www.iop.org/about/awards/2020-mary-somerville-medal-and-prize
Visit Dr Becky's YouTube channel.