Durham woman wins top Physics medal
(5 October 2005)
Dr Ruth Gregory, a young physicist at Durham University, has been awarded one of the country’s top science medals for outstanding research.
The Institute of Physics has given its 2006 Maxwell Medal to Dr Gregory for her work trying to understand the underlying structure of the universe. She is the first woman to win this prestigious award.
It is among the annual IoP honours list for physicists who have made a remarkable contribution to science. Previous winners include Niels Bohr, Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose, Lord Rutherford, Max Planck and Fred Hoyle, many of whom went on to win the Nobel prize for Physics.
Working at the interface between general relativity and string theory, Dr Gregory, a Reader in Mathematical Sciences, has made important contributions to cosmic strings, black holes and brane worlds (a model which says all matter in the universe is trapped on a surface with three spatial dimensions, like dust particles on soap bubbles. This 3-D surface is known as a "brane", a name derived from membrane, the 2-D equivalent).
Vice-Chancellor Sir Kenneth Calman said: “I congratulate Dr Gregory on this very special award. Our Physics depart is one of the best, and this confirms the quality of its research. Science, and Physics in particular, has been a bit of a male province in the past, but we have an increasing number of women in science, both as staff and as students. I see that two women are among the Institute’s prizewinners and I am particularly pleased that one of them is in Durham.” Dr Gregory’s award is named after James Maxwell, the great 19th century physicist who discovered the principles of electromagnetism. All the awards will be presented at the Institute of Physics Awards dinner 2006 in London on 19 January 2006.