Jocelyn Bell Burnell (1943- )

British astronomer. Born on 15 July 1943 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Jocelyn Bell graduated in physics from Glasgow University in 1965. She continued her research at Cambridge University with a PhD in radio astronomy, completing her dissertation in 1969.

During her first two years at Cambridge she assisted in the construction of radio telescope used to track quasars. The telescope went into operation in 1967 and Bell operated the telescope and analysed the data obtained. She discovered the first-known pulsar, a rapidly spinning neutron star that sends out regular bursts of radio waves and visible light.

News of the discovery was published in the journal “Nature” in February 1968. That same year she married Martin Burnell. She has studied the sky across the electromagnetic spectrum at gamma ray, X-ray and infrared wavelengths.

In 1989 she was awarded the Herschel medal from the Royal Astronomical Society and in 1991 was appointed Professor of Physics at the Open University, Britain’s largest university. In 1999 she was made Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for her services to astronomy. Since 2001, Jocelyn has served as dean of science at the University of Bath, England, and in May 2002 she was appointed the first female president of the Royal Astronomical Society. She is a great supporter of women in science.