Bronze Early Career Medals

Nominations for the 2020 Awards open on 19 November 2019.

We award our Bronze Early Career Medals each year to exceptional physicists in the early stages of their careers.


We define early career as meaning someone who is, as of 31 January 2019 and allowing for career breaks:

  • within six years of completing your PhD
  • within ten years of first beginning work in the research and/or application of physics, if you don’t have a PhD.

We welcome nominees who have made contributions to:

  1. theoretical physics (including mathematical and computational physics
  2. experimental physics
  3. the application of physics in an industrial or commercial context
  4. physics and you are a woman in the early stages of your career
  5. physics education
  6. public engagement in physics.
Image of James Clerk Maxwell Medal

James Clerk Maxwell Medal and Prize

For exceptional early-career contributions to theoretical (including mathematical and computational) physics 

About James Clerk Maxwell

James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish mathematical physicist best known for his unification of electricity, magnetism and light into the single phenomenon of electromagnetism – one of the first such unifications in physics.

Maxwell and Ludwig Boltzmann devised an equation describing the probability distribution of speeds in an idealised gas – the Maxwell–Boltzmann distribution.

Maxwell also worked on colour perception and applied his theory to pioneering colour photography. He lends his name to, among others, a compound derived unit of magnetic flux and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope.

This medal comes with a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Find out more about the work of previous winners

Image of Henry Moseley Medal

Henry Moseley Medal and Prize

For exceptional early-career contributions to experimental physics

About Henry Moseley

Henry Moseley was an English experimental physicist who went to the University of Oxford in 1906. After graduation, he became an assistant to Sir Ernest Rutherford at the University of Manchester. Shortly after, through experimenting with radioactive beta particles, he invented the first atomic battery.

In 1914, Moseley resigned from Manchester University and turned down a job at Oxford to enlist in the Royal Engineers of the British Army. Moseley was killed during the Battle of Gallipoli on 10 August 1915, at the age of 27.

After his death, the British government no longer allowed prominent scientists to serve in combat. Had he not died, it is speculated that he would have received the 1916 Nobel Prize in Physics.

This medal comes with a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Find out more about the work of previous winners

Image of Clifford Paterson Medal

Clifford Paterson Medal and Prize

For exceptional early-career contributions to the application of physics in an industrial or commercial context

About Clifford Paterson

Clifford Paterson was an English scientist and electrical engineer. He spent the first part of his career from 1901 to 1918 at the National Physical Laboratory as principal assistant.

In 1919, he joined the General Electric Company to found, organise and, for nearly thirty years, direct the company's research laboratories. In 1941, Paterson was made a director of the General Electric Company and five years later he received a knighthood.

He was also deeply involved in creating a national framework for science and engineering. Paterson served as president of the Institute of Physics from 1937 to 1939.

This medal comes with a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Find out more about the work of previous winners

Image of Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal

Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize

For exceptional early-career contributions to physics by a very early career female physicist

About Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell famously discovered the first four pulsars – one of the constituent discoveries that led to the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics to Martin Ryle and Antony Hewish in 1974. It was very much as a result of her persistence that these exotic and unexpected objects were first recognised.

She was one of a group of senior women scientists whose efforts led to the creation of the Athena SWAN awards, recognising a commitment to advancing the careers of women in science. Bell Burnell served as presidents of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Institute of Physics.

Nominees for the award must:

  • be women
  • have completed their first undergraduate (bachelor’s or master’s) degree in physics less than five years ago (not including career breaks)
  • be making a substantial contribution to physics
  • be working to support and encourage others in the field
  • be working in a physics based role e.g. researcher, graduate trainee or teacher or engaged in postgraduate study in physics

The nominee’s undergraduate degree must be listed on myphysicscourse.org. We consider nominees with non-UK degrees on a case by case basis.

This medal comes with a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Find out more about the work of previous winners

Image of Daphne Jackson Medal

Daphne Jackson Medal and Prize

For exceptional early career contributions to physics education

About Daphne Jackson

Daphne Jackson became Britain’s first female professor of physics in 1971 when she was appointed by Surrey University at the age of 34, and later rose to be the dean.

She was president of the Women’s Engineering Society and vice-president of the Institute of Physics, after being its youngest ever fellow.

She introduced the returner’s fellowships for women having difficulty returning to science after a career break.

After Daphne Jackson died, the returner’s fellowships were named after her. The fellowships are a way to retrain and support women after what may be long breaks. Recipients will have had a career break of two years or more for family, caring or health reasons. Many women have benefitted.

This medal comes with a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Find out more about the work of previous winners

Learn more about returner’s fellowships at the Daphne Jackson Trust.

Image of Mary Somerville Medal

Mary Somerville Medal and Prize

For exceptional early career contributions to public engagement in physics

About Mary Somerville

Mary Somerville was a Scottish science writer and polymath. She studied mathematics and astronomy. She and Caroline Herschel were jointly nominated as the first women members of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Somerville published her first paper, The Magnetic Properties of the Violet Rays of the Solar Spectrum, in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in 1826.

Her other work, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences, is one of the biggest-selling science books of the nineteenth century and was commonly used as a textbook until the early twentieth century.

This medal comes with a prize of £1,000 and a certificate.

Find out more about the work of previous winners

Sponsorship

We are grateful for our sponsorship from AWE, which supports the purchase of our physics education and public engagement bronze medals.

Find out about our other awards