Today, on the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Mansfield College is delighted to announce the launch of a new initiative in honour of trailblazing astrophysicist Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who is a Fellow of the College. 

While completing her PhD at the University of Cambridge, and aged just 24, Jocelyn discovered a new type of star known as a pulsar, which previously only a few had suspected existed.  

Mansfield’s new annual Jocelyn Bell Burnell Lecture will be held each November to mark Jocelyn’s discovery of pulsars on 28 November 1967 and aims to encourage and inspire the study of science at the highest level, to all with the curiosity and commitment to pursue it.  

The inaugural Jocelyn Bell Burnell Lecture will be given in November 2021, by space scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who last year was made an Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College in recognition of her achievements in public engagement with science. 

Stay up-to-date with all the latest news on this, and other Mansfield events, via the Mansfield College website and Social Media channels – follow us on Twitter and Instagram @MansfieldOxford, or on Facebook @MansfieldCollegeOxford.


Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE, FRS, FRSE, FRAS, FInstP

Astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars – the dead remnants of massive stars left behind after the supernova explosions that ended their lives – as a graduate student at the University of Cambridge.

The significance of this discovery was recognised by the award of the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics. However, despite Jocelyn being the first person to discover the pulsars, the prize was awarded to her supervisors, Anthony Hewish and Sir Martin Ryle.

Since then, Jocelyn has received many honours, including, in 2018, a Breakthrough Prize for Physics by the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation. Following the announcement of the award, Jocelyn pledged the £2.3 million prize money to help women, minority, and refugee students to follow in her footsteps to become Physics researchers.

In 2021, Jocelyn joined Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble, and Stephen Hawking by becoming a recipient of the prestigious Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal for Astronomy.

Jocelyn is a Professorial Fellow in Mansfield College, a member of the University of Oxford’s Physics Department and Chancellor of the University of Dundee. She has been President of the Royal Astronomical Society, in 2008 became the first woman President of the Institute of Physics, and in 2014 the first woman President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was one of the small group of women scientists that set up the Athena Swan Charter, a framework established in 2005 and now used across the globe to support and transform gender equality within higher education and research, and encourage and recognise commitment to advancing the careers of women, and gender equality more broadly, in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM).


Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE

Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a space scientist, science communicator and presenter of the BBC’s The Sky at Night. She is a pioneering figure in communicating science to the public, specifically school children, and also runs her own company, Science Innovation Ltd, which engages children and adults all over the world with the wonders of space science.

Maggie is committed to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers, and scientists and has spoken to approximately 350,000 children, many of them at inner-city schools, telling them how and why she became a scientist, busting myths about careers, class, and gender.

She has received numerous honours, including honorary degrees from the University of Bath, Loughborough University, Staffordshire University, and an Honorary fellowship from the British Science Association. She was awarded an MBE in the 2009 New Year’s Honours list for services to science education.