Encouraging greater diversity in physics

The Institute of Physics is launching a bursary scheme to help under-represented students to become physics researchers, thanks to the donation of prize funds from Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was awarded the Breakthrough Prize last September for the discovery of radio pulsars and decided to donate all her £2.3m prize money to support PhD students from groups currently under-represented in physics, including female students, black and other minority ethnic (BAME) students, students who require support for disabilities, LGBT+ students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund will be administered and managed by the Institute of Physics and will support graduates who wish to study a PhD in physics.  The fund will also support students from low socio-economic backgrounds and those who qualify for refugee status.

Featured in the Institute of Physics’ promotional videos of the scheme is School of Physics and Astronomy current year 4 Astrophysics student, Ozioma Kamalu.  Ozioma is a member of the School’s Equality and Diversity Committee and is Campus Ambassador for the Institute of Physics. 

She reported:

I am so pleased that such a generous donation has been made available to support under-represented students in physics.  I am also privileged to have this opportunity to support the scheme and help encourage fellow students by working to reduce inequalities in this field.

Dr Job Thijssen, the School’s Director of Equality & Diversity commented:

I am delighted to hear the news of this initiative, funded by the generous donation of Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, which aims to encourage greater diversity in physics by supporting graduates from currently underrepresented groups who wish to do a PhD in physics. I would also like to thank Ozioma for her continuing efforts to promote an inclusive environment in the School and beyond. 

Prof Bell Burnell was awarded a Breakthrough Prize for her discovery in 1967 of radio pulsars - rapidly rotating star remnants.