Awards for Leicester from the Royal Astronomical Society

Posted by pt91 at Jan 13, 2017 03:48 PM |
Work of Leicester academics recognised by prestigious prizes

The University of Leicester is associated with two prestigious prizes announced today by the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Professor Clive Ruggles, Emeritus Professor of Archaeoastronomy in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, and a project led by Professor Mark Lester, of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, have been recognised.

Professor Ruggles is the first winner of the RAS Agnes Mary Clerke Medal, a new medal introduced this year for outstanding achievement in research into the history of astronomy or geophysics.

The citation reads:

Professor Clive Ruggles is the UK's foremost figure in archaeoastronomy, seeking to clarify what can be firmly established about early astronomy and what is conjecture. He has made many contributions to the wider study of astronomy as a core element of the culture of ancient societies throughout the World. Professor Ruggles has participated in a highly significant body of research on stone circle sites and related megalithic structures in both Britain and Ireland, and has summarised this work in his classic and highly regarded book, 'Astronomy in Prehistoric Britain and Ireland'. Recently, Professor Ruggles has been working on a UNESCO thematic study to identify and establish criteria for World Heritage Sites in astronomy, and has been instrumental in securing recognition and protection of internationally important sites, such as Thornborough Henges (the 'Stonehenge of the North'). Prof. Ruggles has also shown great commitment to public outreach, giving many talks and organising many public events to the benefit of astronomy as a whole. Professor Ruggles has a lifetime of distinguished work in the overlapping areas of archaeology, astronomy and the history of science.

For these reasons, Professor Ruggles is awarded the Agnes Mary Clerke Medal.

Professor Ruggles said: "I am overwhelmed and absolutely delighted at the award of the RAS's new History Medal. Interdisciplinary areas of research are always challenging, especially when they cut across two disciplines as diverse as archaeology and astronomy, but it has been a privilege to work in an emerging field that generates such wide interest, not to mention controversy. This award is quite unexpected and it is a huge honour."

Professor Lester is Chair of the SuperDARN executive council and currently leads the project.

SuperDARN is a network of high frequency radars designed to study the upper atmosphere and its interaction with the solar wind and the lower atmosphere.  There are currently 34 radars, with 23 in the northern hemisphere ranging from the polar regions to mid latitudes and encircling the North Pole, and 11 in the Southern Hemisphere also ranging from the pole to mid latitudes.  SuperDARN has been operational for over 20 years and UoL has run 2 radars, one in Iceland and one in Finland, since 1995.  The Leicester team have also built 6 of the other radars currently operating in the network.

Professor Lester said: “I am delighted that the RAS have made this award to the SuperDARN team.  It recognises the scientific and technical achievements of over 200 researchers and engineers who  contributed to the project.  It is a pleasure to work with such a talented team and the project represents the best traditions of international scientific collaboration.”

The citation reads:

The Group Achievement Award for achievement by a large consortium in geophysics is awarded to SuperDARN.

The Super Dual Auroral Radar Network, or SuperDARN, has worked as a co-operative international consortium for over 20 years, and has proved to be immensely successful in studying dynamical geophysical processes in the Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and neutral atmosphere. SuperDARN consists of ground-based coherent-scatter radars making measurements of the properties of the Earth’s ionised atmosphere on local and global scales.

It has provided insight into a broad range of processes and phenomena, including magnetic reconnection, plasma convection, energy flow into the magnetosphere, global tides in the mesosphere and thermosphere, and the disturbances that lead to the disruption of radio communications.

From its beginnings as isolated, individually run radars, SuperDARN has grown into a network covering extensive regions of both the northern and southern polar ionospheres. The SuperDARN consortium is currently led by Professor Mark Lester, and involves 9 countries, 16 institutes and 33 radars worldwide. Over the past 20 years, SuperDARN has produced numerous scientific firsts, and around 700 refereed papers. SuperDARN has been a scientific backbone for the UK and international Magnetosphere, Ionosphere and Solar-Terrestrial physics community, and the dedication of the SuperDARN teams ensures that it continues to provide scientific breakthroughs.

For these reasons, the SuperDARN team is awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s Group Achievement Award.

Each year the RAS recognises significant achievement in the fields of astronomy and geophysics through these awards. The announcements were made at the Ordinary Meeting of the society held on Friday 13 January 2017. The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the Society's National Astronomy Meeting in Hull in July.

Professor John Zarnecki, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, congratulated the winners:

“The recipients of the Royal Astronomical Society's 2017 awards, medals and prizes reflect the enormously wide range of interests of the Society and its members.  From the interior of our Earth through to the Outer Planets of our Solar System and further to our own Galaxy and even to the outer reaches of our Universe, all disciplines are represented.  The achievements of all of our winners are impressive and we are so pleased to be able to acknowledge them.”


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