Institute of Astronomy

Celebrating Women in Astronomy

Inclusive Astronomy is a yearlong, worldwide initiative to celebrate and promote Inclusivity, Equity, and Diversity in Astronomy in 2019 (https://www.inclusive-astronomy.org). It is part of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) 100th anniversary celebrations. The worldwide events commence on 11th February 2019 with the celebration of the United Nations’ International Day of Women and Girls in Science and the IAU Women and Girls in Astronomy Day.

At the Institute of Astronomy many of the women who have studied and worked here have gone on to great success as astronomers, scientists, technologists and educators. To visually inspire the upcoming generation of astronomers to the same success we chose to celebrate Women in Astronomy by showcasing the astronomy careers of influential women who have pursued their science at Cambridge. We present here their rich scientific endeavours and their variety of pathways to success.

This series of posters begins with a group photo of the Women Postdocs & Graduate Students of the Institute of Astronomy, Kavli Institute of Cosmology and Battcock Institute for Experimental Astrophysics. These women are part of the upcoming generation of scientists that we aim to inspire.

                                                                                                                              Photo Credit: Amanda Smith

Top Row, from left to right: Dr Giorgia Busso, Dr Diana Harrison, Namrah Habib, Anjali Piette, Joanna Piotrowska, Dr Anais Gonneau.

Bottom row, from left to right: Rosie Talbot, Catriona Sinclair, Amy Rankine, Sophie Koudmani, Jasleen Matharu, Dr Elmé Breedt Lategan, Dr Nimisha Kumari, Dr Alice Concas, Dr Manda Banerij, Eva-Maria Ahrer.

Center row, from left to right: Dr Clare Worley, Haoyang Ye, Jessica Rigley, Laura Rogers, Pooneh Nazari, Dr Francesca De Angeli, Dr Anna Hourihane, Dr Estelle Pons, Catriona Murray, Dr Annelies Mortier. 

Also at the IoA, Kavli and Battcock: Fruzsina Agocs, Dr Verity Allan, Dr Amy Bonsor, Dr Emma Curtis-Lake, Dr Laetitia Delrez, Dr Catrina Diener, Dr Danielle Fenech, Dr Anastasia Fialkov, Dr Ghina Halabi, Do Young Kim, Dr Aybuke Kupcu-Yoldas, Dr Semyeong Oh, Holly Preece, Dr Helen Russell, Dr Renske Smit,  Dr Samantha Thompson.

The posters are currently displayed in the foyer of the Hoyle Building. The contents of the posters and further information on each of the scientists in our display are provided below.
 

Links to the Scientists and more information

Cathie Clarke

Carolin Crawford

Debora Sijacki

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Margaret Burbidge

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Hiranya Peiris

Carole Jackson

Isobel Hook

Lisa Storrie-Lombardi

Priyamvada Natarajan

 

Poster Downloads

The Poster Team

 

 

Cathie Clarke

                                                                                                                   Photograph by Mark McCaughrean

Professor Clarke's research is centred on star formation and protoplanetary discs.  She originated the idea that discs around even low mass stars can lose gas due to photoevaporation (i.e. where high energy stellar radiation drives a thermal wind from the disc’s surface layers). She and collaborators have developed the theory of photoevaporation and in 2016 she produced the first self-consistent analytical model for thermal disc winds. Cathie is currently engaged in comparing theories of protoplanetary discs with observations. A recent highlight was her team’s discovery (using ALMA) of the spectacular CI Tau protoplanetary system, showing evidence for at least four planets, at an age of only a million years, spanning a record factor thousand in orbital radius.

Professor Clarke received her DPhil from Oxford in 1987 followed by two years at Lick Observatory in California. She has worked nearly continuously at the Institute of Astronomy (IoA), Cambridge since 1989, apart from a year as a lecturer at Queen Mary University of London, returning as Lecturer to the IoA in 1995 and becoming Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics in 2008. In addition to her research activities Cathie has been strongly involved in developing courses for the Part II Astrophysics course; her textbook `Principles of Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics' (with Professor Bob Carswell) was published by Cambridge University Press in 2007. She is an editor for the Elsevier journal New Astronomy Reviews and a Syndic of Cambridge University Press.

Honours & Awards

  • First woman to be awarded with the Eddington Medal by the Royal Astronomical Society (2017);
  • Pilkington Prize for teaching and learning by the University of Cambridge (2001);
  • Fellow of Clare College in Cambridge;
  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (Mark McCaughrean) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Cathie Clarke

 

Carolin Crawford

                                                                                                                               Photograph by Sam Fabian

Professor Crawford's research combined X-ray, optical, and near-infrared observations to investigate the environments of some of the largest galaxies in the Universe. In particular she was interested in the complex interplay between the hot intra-cluster medium, filaments of warm ionised gas, cold molecular clouds, star formation and the radio plasma flowing out from the central supermassive black hole. Carolin’s research was carried out alongside - and later eclipsed by - a growing role in the public communication of science.

Professor Crawford took a degree in Mathematics (1985) and a PhD in Astronomy (1988) at Newnham College, Cambridge. After holding a variety of research fellowships in Oxford and Cambridge, she has been a Fellow at Emmanuel College since 2004 where she is an Admissions Tutor and a College Lecturer in mathematics. Carolin is the Public Astronomer at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, and was appointed as the Professor of Astronomy at Gresham College, London for 2011-2015.

Honours & Awards

  • UK Research Council Outstanding Women of Achievement award for the Communication of SET with a contribution to society (2009);
  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Resources

Download

Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (Sam Fabian) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Carolin Crawford

 

Debora Sijacki

Dr. Sijacki focuses her research on understanding from the theoretical point of view the formation and evolution of cosmic structures, from small mass galaxies at high redshifts to the most massive galaxy clusters in the present-day Universe.

She is developing novel numerical models which can follow self-consistently the formation and growth of cosmic structures, including all of the three major constituents: dark energy, dark matter and baryons. An expert in cosmological simulations, Debora found that supermassive black holes significantly influence the evolution of their host galaxies, changing their star formation history, their amount of cold gas and their colours.

Dr. Sijacki moved to Cambridge in 2007 to work as a STFC Postdoctoral Fellow,  after completing her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, Germany  (2007). She then took up a Hubble Fellowship at the Center for Astrophysics, Harvard University. Debora returned in to Cambridge in 2013 as Lecturer at the Institute of Astronomy, where she is Reader in Astrophysics and Cosmology since 2016. She also currently chairs the Project Management Board of DiRAC, the UK national High Performance Computing facility.

Honours & Awards

  • European Research Council starting grant (2015)
  • Otto Hahn Medal for outstanding scientific achievement by the Max Planck Society (2009)

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Debora Sijacki

 


Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

For her PhD thesis completed in 1925, Professor Payne-Gaposchkin showed that the great variety of spectra of stars could be explained by different stellar temperatures and pressures. At the time stars were thought to have the same chemical composition as the Earth (mainly iron, oxygen and magnesium) but while Cecilia showed that the composition of the heavier elements were indeed similar, the stars, and by implication the Universe, were overwhelmingly made of hydrogen and helium. Cecilia was dissuaded from acknowledging this result in her thesis, but within a few years her work was independently confirmed. Cecilia’s discovery gave us a completely new understanding of the physical nature of the Universe.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin completed her undergraduate studies in astronomy at Newnham College, Cambridge in 1923. However her degree was not awarded as Cambridge did not grant degrees to women until 1948.

On a fellowship for women offered by Harlow Shapley, the Director of Harvard College Observatory, she completed her doctoral thesis in 1925. In 1956 Cecilia became the first woman to be promoted to full professor from within the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Then in 1957 she was promoted to Chair of the Department of Astronomy, the first woman to head a department at Harvard.

Honours & Awards

  • Member of the Royal Astronomical Society (1923)
  • The 1st recipient of the Annie J. Cannon Award in Astronomy (1934)
  • Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1943)
  • Awarded the Rittenhouse Medal from the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society at the Franklin Institute (1961)
  • Awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship of the American Astronomical Society (1976)

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

 


Margaret Burbidge

                                                Photo credit: Courtesy of Clemson University and Donald D. Clayton

Professor Burbidge is most known for being one of the authors, along with G. Burbidge, Fowler and Hoyle of the ground-breaking paper known as B2FH (1957), explaining the origin of the elements in stars by nuclear synthesis. Margaret also pioneered measurements on galaxy rotation curves and masses and contributed notably to spectroscopic studies of quasars. The appointment of Margaret as the first female Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, marked the moment when the Director was no longer automatically given the title Astronomer Royal. Margaret was part of the team for the Faint Object Spectrograph on the Hubble Space Telescope.

Professor Burbidge obtained her PhD at the University College London in 1943. She later took up a post at the Yerkes Observatory, before returning to the UK in 1953 with her husband who had a position in Cambridge, where she used the Madingley Road telescopes to conduct observations that were key for the B2FH theory. In 1955 Margaret returned to the US, working first at Caltech, followed by Yerkes, before moving to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) where she became a full Professor in 1964. She left to become the Director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, but soon returned to her former position at UCSD. In 1976 Margaret became the first female President of the American Astronomical Society.

Honours & Awards

  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, co-awarded (2005)
  • Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (1984)
  • National Medal of Science (1983)
  • Catherine Wolfe Bruce Medal (1982)
  • Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1969)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society (1964)
  • Helen B. Warner Prize, co-awarded (1959)

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (Courtesy of Clemson University and Donald D. Clayton) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Margaret Burbidge

 

Jocelyn Bell Burnell

                                                                                 Photo credit: Courtesy of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

During her PhD Professor Bell Burnell helped to construct the 81.5-megahertz radio telescope at Cambridge. While using it to hunt for quasars, she detected unexpected signals that pulsed about once a second, far too fast to be quasars. Initially labelled as LGM (Little Green Men) Jocelyn’s persistence revealed these to be pulsars (pulsating quasi-stellar objects). These rapidly rotating stars were the first observational evidence of an extreme state of matter known as a neutron star, with a density of 1017 kg m-3, created from its core when a massive star explodes as a Supernova.

Professor Bell Burnell obtained her PhD from the University of Cambridge in 1969, after completing her undergraduate degree with honours at the University of Glasgow in 1965. She held postdoctoral positions at the University of Southampton (1968-73), University College London (1974-82) and the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh (1982–91) at which she was Head of the British section of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea.  In 1973 Jocelyn became Lecturer, and then Professor of Physics (1991), at the Open University. She is currently Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and in February 2018 she was appointed Chancellor of the University of Dundee.

Honours & Awards

  • Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2018)
  • Grande Medaille, Academie des Sciences, Paris (2018)
  • Royal Medal, Royal Society (2015)
  • First female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2014)
  • First female President of the Institute of Physics (2010)
  • Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (2007)
  • Fellow of the Royal Society
  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (Courtesy of the Royal Society of Edinburgh) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Jocelyn Bell Burnell

 

Hiranya Peiris

                                                                                                  Photo credit: Max Alexander, © Hiranya Peiris

 

Professor Peiris is a cosmologist who uses observations of the heat signature of the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background (CMB), to better understand and constrain the fundamental physics of the Universe. She leads forefront research testing the nature of cosmological inflation, the rapid acceleration of the Universe in the first 10-35 of a second, using data from ground breaking projects such as the ESA Planck satellite. Another strand of Hiranya’s research uses massive datasets of galaxies gathered by next generation surveys to gain insights into the evolution of the Universe and its underlying physics.

Professor Peiris undertook her undergraduate degree at New Hall, University of Cambridge (1998), and completed her PhD at Princeton University (2003). She was a Hubble Fellow in the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago (2004-07) and held an STFC Advanced Fellowship at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge (2007-12). Hiranya was appointed Lecturer (2009), and then Professor (2015) at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London. In 2016 she took up the Directorship of the Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmoparticle Physics in Stockholm. Hiranya is an active member of key cosmology projects such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument.

Honours & Awards

  • The Institute of Physics Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize (2018)
  • 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics awarded to the WMAP Science Team
  • Vice President of the Royal Astronomical Society (2016-2018)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics
  • Buchalter Cosmology Prize, co-recipient (2014, 2018)
  • Fowler Prize, Royal Astronomical Society, U.K. (2012)
  • Philip Leverhulme Prize, The Leverhulme Trust, U.K. (2009)

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (Max Alexander, © Hiranya Peiris) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Hiranya Peiris

 

Carole Jackson

Professor Jackson is an expert in extragalactic radio astronomy and technology research management, gained from working across industry and the research sector through her twenty-five year career.

She was a member of the UK-Australian 2dF galaxy redshift (2dFGRS) survey team that has led to significant discoveries including obtaining the first secure signal of baryon acoustic oscillations and neutrino mass limits.

Melding her astronomical and managerial skills, Carole led the design and delivery of the major new 36-dish Australian Square Kilometer Array (ASKAP) pathfinder telescope and also the set up of the international SKA Dish Array consortium.

Professor Jackson completed her PhD in radio astronomy at the University of Cambridge in 1998 after a first career in finance and engineering. Following two terms as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sydney and the Australian National University, Carole moved to CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science (2003-2013). She then advanced to Science Director at Curtin University’s Institute of Radio Astronomy (2013-2017). Since April 2017 Carole is the General and Scientific Director of ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy based at Dwingeloo.

Honours & Awards

  • Western Australia Premier’s Fellow in Radio Astronomy, at Curtin University (2013-17).
  • Awarded the CSIRO Chairman’s Medal (2015) (ASKAP PAF)
  • Fellow of the Astronomical Society of Australia and Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Royal Astronomical Society Group Achievement Award for 2dFGRS Team (2008)
  • Appointed as Professor in Radio Astronomy, Leiden University

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Carole Jackson

 

Isobel Hook

                                                                                                                            Photo Credit: Jill Jennings

As NATO Fellow at Berkeley from 1994, Professor Hook became part of the Supernova Cosmology Project Team led by Professor Saul Perlmutter. The goal of the project was to accurately measure the expansion rate of the Universe at different cosmic times by observing large numbers of Supernovae Type Ia (well-known as distance indicators) at high redshifts. The painstaking analysis by this team unexpectedly revealed that, rather than the expansion rate slowing down, the expansion of the Universe is actually speeding up. This acceleration is thought to be due to ‘Dark Energy’, the nature of which and its effect on the Universe is the focus of Isobel’s continuing research.

Professor Hook completed her undergraduate degree (1990) and PhD (1994) at the University of Cambridge. She was then awarded the position of NATO Fellow at U.C. Berkeley (1994-96), European Southern Observatory Fellow (1996-98), then advanced to U.K. Gemini Support Astronomer (1998-2002). She became Head of the U.K. Gemini Support Group at the University of Oxford in 2002. Isobel was appointed to University Research Lecturer (2006) and then Professor of Astrophysics (2008) at the University of Oxford. In 2015 she was appointed to Professor of Astrophysics at Lancaster University. Isobel is an active member of forefront astronomical projects such as the European-Extremely Large Telescope and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

Honours & Awards

  • 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics awarded to the Supernova Cosmology Project Team
  • 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize awarded to the Supernova Cosmology Project Team
  • Participant in work that was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics, as a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project
  • Fellow of the Institute of Physics, UK (2012)
  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (2017)

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (Jill Jennings) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Isobel Hook

 

Lisa Storrie-Lombardi

                                                 Background Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/SSC/CXC/STScI

 

Doctor Storrie-Lombardi began her research career observing quasi-stellar objects (QSO) as tracers of gas in high redshift galaxies to investigate galaxy formation and evolution. Her experience in designing and managing astronomical surveys led lead her to greater leadership roles in large projects. In 2016 Lisa became the Project Manager for the Spitzer Space Telescope at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at CalTech. She is responsible for the operation of the project and the interface with NASA Headquarters. Lisa is also Project Manager for Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array and Manager for the Astronomy and Physics Directorate Operational Missions Office, responsible for coordinating communication and providing administrative oversight for Spitzer, NuSTAR, NEOWISE, and Voyager.

After completing her PhD at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge in 1994, Doctor Storrie-Lombardi was awarded the position of University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow at San Diego (1995-96), then NICMOS Postdoctoral Fellow at Carnegie Observatories (1996-99). Lisa then worked as a Science User Tools Scientist and Archive Scientist at the Spitzer Science Center at CalTech (1999-2003), advancing to Spitzer Science Center Manager (2009) and Assistant Director for Ground-Based Astronomy at IPAC, CalTech (2011). Lisa is now Project Manager for the Spitzer Space Telescope and the small Explorer mission, NuSTAR at JPL, CalTech.

Honours & Awards

  • NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal (2015)
  • NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal (2007)
  • Fullam/Dudley Award, The Dudley Observatory, New York (1995)
  • Isaac Newton Studentship, University of Cambridge, Cambridge (1992)

Resources

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Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and background photo credit (NASA/JPL-Caltech/ESA/SSC/CXC/STScI) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Lisa Storrie-Lombardi

 

Priyamvada Natarajan

                                                                                                                           Photo Credit: G.A.M. Miller

Professor Natarajan is a theoretical astrophysicist who works on mapping dark matter using gravitational lensing. Lensing is the bending of light from distant objects by a massive foreground object that acts as a ‘lens’. Using this effect, she maps dark matter in clusters of galaxies. Clusters are the largest known repositories of dark matter and hence perfect laboratories for probing the true nature of this enigmatic matter. Priya also works on the formation and growth of black holes, in particular, on the origin of the very first black holes. She has proposed that, rather than in the death of the first stars, the first seed black holes were created in the collapse of the very earliest pre-galactic gas disks.

Professor Natarajan completed her PhD in theoretical astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge in 1998. Prior to this she obtained undergraduate degrees in mathematics and physics at M.I.T. (1991), and a Master’s Degree from M.I.T.'s Program in Science, Technology and Society (1993). During her PhD, Priya was awarded a  Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Cambridge (1997-2003). After spending a few months at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, she joined Yale as an Assistant Professor (2000) then Professor (2009) at Yale University. Priya also holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship of the Dark Cosmology Center, Niels Bohr Institute, Denmark and a honorary professorship for life at the University of Delhi.

Honours & Awards

  • Author of ‘Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas That Reveal the Cosmos’, 2016, Yale University Press
  • India Empire NRI Award for Achievement in the Sciences (2011); Subramanya Bharati Award (2015)
  • Caroline Herschel Distinguished Visitor, Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore (2011-13)
  • Guggenheim Fellowship (2010-11); Radcliffe Fellowship (2009-10)
  • India Abroad Foundation's "Face of the Future" Award (2009)
  • National Academy of Sciences’ Kavli Frontiers Fellowship (2006)
  • Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Fellow of the Explorers Club
  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Fellow of Cambridge Philosophical Society

Resources

Download

Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge and photo credit (G.A.M. Miller) when using this poster for science education and outreach purposes.

Poster: Priyamvada Natarajan

 

Poster Downloads

The posters that make up the Celebrating Women in Astronomy display can be freely downloaded and printed for science education and outreach purposes. Please acknowledge the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and the photo credit provided for each Scientist's photo in the posters.

Poster: Celebrating Women in Astronomy

Poster: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin

Poster: Carole Jackson

Poster: Hiranya Peiris

Poster: Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Poster: Isobel Hook

Poster: Lisa Storrie-Lombardi

Poster: Margaret Burbidge

Poster: Carolin Crawford

Poster: Cathie Clarke

Poster: Priyamvada Natarajan

Poster: Debora Sijacki

 


The Poster Team

This project was designed, compiled and created by the following great team of people at the IoA:

  • Amanda Smith - Poster design and graphics
  • Clare Worley, Giorgia Busso, Catrina Diener, Haoyang Ye - Text and resource compilation for posters and website
  • Mark Hurn, Robin Catchpole - Fact, resource and text proofing
  • Richard McMahon - Encouragement and financial support on behalf of the IoA
Page last updated: 8 March 2019 at 06:22