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Department of Physics


Dr Mathilde Jauzac awarded first prize at the inaugural University Research Staff Awards

(25 May 2017)

Image of Dr Mathilde Jauzac receiving her award

Mathilde (left) receiving her award from Prof. Claire Warwick (right)

Dr Mathilde Jauzac from the University's Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy has been awarded first place at Durham University's first ever Research Staff Awards. This new competition recognises the significant contribution made by Durham’s c.a 500 contracted research staff via nomination from their line managers or mentors. Mathilde beat off stiff competition from over 40 competitors for her research efforts: she personally leads Durham’s effort to exploit the deepest images of galaxy clusters ever taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. 

Asked how she felt about winning the award, Mathilde said "I feel absolutely amazing! I wasn’t expecting it at all, so it feels even better! Getting this award and thus the recognition for all the work I’ve been doing over my past 3 and half years in Durham that comes with it, is more than motivating. Working in the Durham astronomy group is by itself motivating, but right now, I just want to push it further, and I really hope I can show them they were more than right to award me this prize!"

Mathilde has had 5 press releases about her research, which have featured in newspapers and TV news internationally. When studying for her PhD Mathilde published the first detection of a dark matter large-scale filament, which were never observationally detected until her work. She cites one of her proudest achievements as being involved in the Hubble Frontier Fields, publishing the most precise dark matter maps ever built for galaxy clusters: "This work also allowed me to predict the appearance of a Supernovae for the first time...I have been leading a team of lensing experts for 3 years now, and this project really gave a kick to my career. Now, I am collaborating with theorists from the ICC, with the idea of combining theory and observations to constrain the evolution of our Universe and the nature of dark matter, trying to get the big picture. I am fascinated by what I'm looking at every day!"

She recently hosted the Vice Chancellor for Research of Durban’s University of KwaZulu-Natal, introducing him to the Physics department and forging a formal link between the research centres, including joint supervision and co-visits of research students.

On deciding to nominate her for the award, Dr Richard Massey commented "Mathilde is great at bringing people together. She has got theorists talking to experimentalists, about projects that neither had thought of before. And she recently coordinated more than a hundred astronomers around the world to put aside their personal priorities, and compromise together what they think the Hubble Space Telescope should look at next.

Mathilde sees further than most - literally! She is leading Durham’s analysis of the longest exposures that the Hubble Space Telescope has ever taken of galaxy clusters. The galaxy clusters in turn act as gravitational telescopes, magnifying images of galaxies from the furthest parts of the Universe."