Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jocelyn Bell Burnell
S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born Susan Jocelyn Bell, 15 July 1943), British astrophysicist and Quaker who discovered the first radio pulsars with her thesis advisor Antony Hewish. Born in Northern Ireland, Bell Burnell attended the University of Glasgow and then Cambridge University. At Cambridge, she worked with Hewish and others to construct a radio telescope for the study of quasars, which had recently been discovered, using interplanetary scintillation (which allows compact sources to be distinguished from extended ones). Detecting a bit of "scruff" on her chart recorder papers that tracked across the sky with the stars, Bell Burnell found that the signal was regularly pulsing, about once each second. Temporarily dubbed "Little Green Man 1" the source was eventually identified as a rapidly rotating neutron star.
After finishing her PhD, Bell Burnell worked at the University of Southampton, University College London and the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh , before becoming Professor of Physics at the Open University for ten years, and then a visiting professor at Princeton University. Before retiring Bell Burnell was Dean of Science at the University of Bath between 2001 and 2004, and was President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 2002 and 2004. She is currently a visiting professor at Oxford University.
Although she (famously) did not share the Nobel Prize with Hewish for her discovery, she has been honored by many other organizations. She has won the Oppenheimer Prize , the Michelson Medal of the Franklin Institute, the Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Magellanic Premium of the American Philosophical Society, the Jansky Lectureship of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. She has been awarded numerous honorary degrees, and is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire as well as a Fellow of the Royal Society.
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