Updated: Thursday, 27th February 2020 @ 5:52pm

Pioneering astronomy, graphene and atom research scoops Queen award for Manchester university physics

Pioneering astronomy, graphene and atom research scoops Queen award for Manchester university physics

By Mancunian Matters staff

With an illustrious tradition of producing some of the world’s finest physicists, it is only fitting that only the third prestigious Regius professorship in a century has been awarded to the University of Manchester.

The Queen will award the rare privilege to the institution as part of 12 professorships announced by the government as part of the Diamond Jubilee – the chairs are awarded to universities that have demonstrated an exceptionally high quality of teaching and research in a specific discipline area.

The School of Physics and Astronomy, which also operates the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, is one of the leading physics departments in the world with more than 1,000 students, leading research projects in physics, astrophysics and astronomy, and significant public engagement activities.

Professor Stephen Watts, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, said: “Physics at Manchester has a proud tradition, starting with Rutherford and the discovery of the atomic nucleus, to the recent discovery of graphene.

“The School is proud of its world-class research, its impact on society, and dedication to passing that knowledge to the next generation. We are delighted these accomplishments have been recognised by the award of a Regius professorship by the Queen.”

The school boasts world-leading staff in all areas of modern physics and has produced nine of the 25 Nobel prize winners associated with the University of Manchester, two of whom are among the current staff.

The inaugural Regius Professor of Physics at Manchester will be conferred on Professor Andre Geim. 

As well as being awarded the 2010 Nobel prize for his work on graphene, Professor Geim has produced many key results in other areas of physics that have caught the public’s imagination, including development of ‘gecko tape’ and ‘levitating-frog’ experiments which won him the 2000 Ig Nobel prize.

A total of 12 Regius professorships were awarded by the Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

In the past, Regius professorships were created only when a university chair was founded or endowed by a Royal patron; each appointment is approved by the Monarch on ministerial advice.

Professor Colin Bailey, Vice-President and Dean of the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “It is a great honour to be bestowed a Regius professorship in recognition of the excellent education and research activities carried out by our staff in the School of Physics and Astronomy. 

“I am particularly delighted that Andre has agreed to accept the inaugural Regius Professor of Physics. His passion for scientific research and education, together with its impact on society and the economy, is truly inspirational.”

David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, commented: “I was incredibly impressed by the quality and range of the applications received and am delighted that 12 new Regius professorships are to be created.

“Together, the successful applications demonstrated an exceptionally high level of achievement in both teaching and research.”

Image courtesy of billlion via Wiki Commons, with thanks.

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