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Culture, history and society

IOP welcomes six new Honorary Fellows

The Institute of Physics (IOP) welcomes six new Honorary Fellows in 2020, and this year we recognise two outstanding technical professionals for the first time, reflecting the crucial role played by technicians in the advancement and application of physics and highlighting the growing number of pathways into a successful and rewarding physics career.


Rachael Buckley and Paul Cook, along with Professor Brian Foster, Professor Brian MacCraith, Professor John Ellis and Professor Julian Jones, join the other esteemed members of the physics community who have received the highest honour IOP can bestow, and the 65 current Honorary Fellows.

There are many routes into a career in physics, and rewarding career options are open to everyone interested in the fascinating area of physical sciences. Rachael Buckley and Paul Cook are testament to this.

Having started her career as an apprentice, Rachael Buckley is a respected manager who leads a team of technical staff at the Accelerator Science and Technology Centre (ASTeC), the UK’s centre of excellence in particle accelerator research and development at Daresbury Laboratory. 

She manages all operational developments and business within AsTeC and takes a proactive lead role in the recruitment and training of a growing cohort of ASTeC apprentices.

An impassioned problem solving technician, Rachael plays an essential part in accelerator operations at Daresbury, and is key in supporting ASTeC’s internationally renowned research delivery.

Moreover, through her involvement in public engagement activities, school visits and laboratory tours, she strives to inspire the next generation of technical professionals, passing on her enthusiasm for her job and dedication to her technical career. 

Paul Cook is the Senior Lead Technician at ARK Burlington Danes Academy, where he is a staff governor and also lead technician for the Ark Academy network. 

He has a passion for presenting demonstrations, to inspire and enthuse students by making scientific theory visible and understandable, working as a senior/head technician for many years in various schools in Essex and across London, covering all three sciences to A-Level, but with a specialism in physics.

He is actively involved in primary school outreach projects across a number of schools in the Ark Academy network and beyond, and presents hands-on practical based CPD workshops across the country and internationally for technicians and teachers.  

An ASE National Technician Committee member and registrant champion for the Science Council, Paul was also The Ogden Trust’s first technician fellow and in recent years has become a multi award winning technician.

His awards include a Rolls Royce special Merit Award for work with ICT in science lessons and schools, and the Welcome Trust Award as a National Expert STEM Technician. In 2015 he was presented the Annual Technician Award by the Salters Institute, and in 2017 won a Technician of the Year award from Gratnell’s. In February 2019 he became the first science technician to be elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics. Now, he has been made an Honorary Fellow, the highest accolade the IOP can bestow.

Paul says:

“It is truly an exceptional honour to be awarded the IOP’s highest accolade in recognition of my work as a science technician.

“I have been very fortunate to work alongside fantastic IOP presenters and teams, especially in the years when, through Alan Baugh, I supported the Oxford Summer Schools; every year bringing a larger van load of equipment and resources from my school in London up to the host university in Oxford. For six years I have been working with Niloufar Wijetunge to host and co-present physics twilight sessions for non-specialist technicians and teachers.

“With the ongoing support from Ark Burlington Danes Academy, I have presented at ASE conferences as well as workshops all across the country and more recently internationally in Switzerland and Dubai, UAE.

“This IOP award helps to highlight the huge contribution and impact science technicians make in secondary education, offering practical advice to teachers and helping to ensure students are engaged and inspired by practical science, especially in Physics.”

Rachael and Paul are joined by four academic physicists who have made significant contributions to their respective fields, in both pure and applied physics, nationally and internationally.

Professor Brian MacCraith PhD, FInstP, FSPIE, FIAE, MRIA is a world-renowned leader in and advocate for physics.

With a substantial track record of publications and intellectual property in the areas of optical chemical sensors and biosensors, biomedical diagnostics and nanobiophotonics, he is currently president of Dublin City University (DCU) for a 10-year term, which ends in July 2020.

Brian MacCraith was the founding director of the National Centre for Sensor Research, which was established in 1999 at DCU. He later led the proposal to establish the Biomedical Diagnostics Institute, which was launched as a Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre in 2005 with him as its first director, and the Nano-bio-analytical Research Facility, which was established at DCU in 2010. Throughout his professional career, he has been a strong public advocate for campaigns that address gender imbalance in STEM careers.

He is a member of the Royal Irish Academy, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, a Fellow of SPIE (the international Photonics Organisation), and an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Engineers Ireland, and he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

He chaired the Review of STEM Education in the Irish School System on behalf the Irish government in 2016. Brian has recently been appointed as the chair of the Commission on the Future of Irish Public Service Broadcasting by the Office of the Taoiseach, and has also been a visiting scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

Of becoming an IOP Honorary Fellow, Professor MacCraith says:

“I am delighted and grateful to receive this wonderful recognition from the Institute of Physics. Choosing physics as my discipline at university was a pivotal point in my life and I have never regretted it. It not only opened up an exciting career in research and teaching for me but also provided me with an important framework for thinking critically and analytically, and appreciating the wonders of the world around me.”

Professor John Ellis CBE FRS is an internationally renowned theoretical particle physicist, who has made fundamental contributions to the phenomenology and theory of elementary particle physics.

He currently holds the Clerk Maxwell Professorship of Theoretical Physics at King's College London, and was previously a senior staff member at CERN, where played leading roles in physics studies for several particle accelerators.

His research interests currently include the phenomenological aspects of elementary particle physics and its connections with astrophysics, cosmology and quantum gravity. He pioneered phenomenological studies of the Higgs boson in 1975, the gluon in 1976, supersymmetry and dark matter in 1983, string models in 1988 and quantum gravity in 1997, and is presently researching the Higgs particle and its implications for possible new physics such as dark matter and supersymmetry, as well as gravitational waves. He has twice won the First Award in the Gravity Research Foundation essay competition, in 1999 and 2005. 

Awarded the Maxwell Medal in 1982 and the Paul Dirac Prize in 2005 by the Institute of Physics, John Ellis was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1985 and of the Institute of Physics in 1991, is an Honorary Fellow of King's College Cambridge and of King's College London, was appointed CBE in 2012, delivered the Royal Society Bakerian Prize Lecture in 2015.

Well known for his relentless efforts to promote global collaboration in particle physics, he is a Foreign Fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and a Foreign Member of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, and has honorary doctorates from the University of Southampton and institutions in six other countries. 

Professor Ellis says:

“It has been a privilege to be able to contribute to a golden era in particle physics, and to participate in its unification with astrophysics and cosmology. I thank the Institute of Physics for this recognition.”

Professor Julian Jones has been vice-principal of Heriot-Watt University since 2010 and has held the post of honorary treasurer of the Institute for eight years. He began establishing a research group in optical fibre sensors, optical instrumentation and laser-material interactions at Heriot-Watt University in 1988. In 1992 he became professor of engineering optics, in 1998 head of physics and in 2002 head of the school of engineering and physical sciences. In 2007, he became deputy principal for strategy and resources.

His research in applied optics has had many applications including the development of instrumentation for jet-engine design experiments; pressure sensors used in experiments for mitigation of terrorist explosions; fluorescence techniques for detection of contamination in surgical instruments; the first quantitative measurements of wing-shape in natural insect flight; and more.

He is a director of OptoSci Ltd and has served on many committees for the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Research Councils.  He has been a member of the Defence Scientific Advisory Council and is currently a member of the Scottish Science Advisory Council. 

Julian Jones is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Optical Society of America and the Institute of Physics.  

He was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours of 2002, ‘for services to science and engineering’.

He says:

“The Institute of Physics makes an invaluable contribution to the physics community to which I have belonged throughout my professional life, and so the honour of being awarded this fellowship is something that will always be very important to me.” 

Professor Brian Foster OBE, FRS has been a leader in experimental particle physics for forty years both nationally and internationally. He is Donald H Perkins Professor of Experimental Physics and Professorial Fellow at Balliol College, University of Oxford.

Until recently he was also Alexander von Humboldt Professor in the University of Hamburg and Senior Scientist at DESY.

Known for his pioneering work in high-energy particle physics, he has made major contributions to the study of elementary particles such as heavy quarks and leptons and is a leader in the development and analysis of electron–positron and electron–proton colliders.

He co-founded the IOP Particle Physics Group in 1984 and afterwards chaired the Nuclear & Particle Physics Division and served as a member of Council and the Institute’s Finance Committee.

He has held important positions at both the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) and the Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC).

He chaired the Physics Panel of REF2014.

Brian Foster has held many advisory positions at both CERN and DESY, including Scientific Advisor to the UK delegation to the CERN Council.

He was also chair of the European Committee for Future Accelerators and a member of the International Committee for Future Accelerators; the coordinating body for world particle physics.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2008, and held the position of Vice-president in 2018.

As European director of the International Linear Collider, and as a member of the International Advisory Committee for the Chinese Electron-Positron Collider, he has led international efforts towards the next major accelerator in particle physics. 

Professor Foster says:

“I am deeply honoured to become an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics, of which I have been a member since I was a graduate student. I look forward to continuing to assist the work of the Institute and advance the profession of Physics in the future.”