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ASTROPHYSICIST AND QUAKER TO RECEIVE HONORARY DEGREE

AT COMMENCEMENT on May 16, Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell will add yet another credit to her achievements: honorary degree recipient from Guilford College.

Born in Northern Ireland, she attended The Mount School, a Quaker girls’ boarding school in York, England, where she discovered an aptitude for physics. She graduated from the University of Glasgow with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Philosophy (Physics) and obtained a Ph.D from the University of Cambridge.

While a postgraduate research student at Cambridge in 1967, Jocelyn co-discovered the first radio pulsars. This finding is credited as one of the most significant achievements of the 20th century and was awarded the 1974 Nobel Prize in Physics. In addition to multiple visiting professorships at renowned universities across the globe, Jocelyn has served as President of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Institute of Physics. In 1999, she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Astronomy and promoted to Dame Commander in 2007.

Dame Susan Jocelyn Bell Burnell
Photo courtesy of Royal Society of Edinburgh

Currently, Jocelyn is Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Visiting Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Mansfield College.

Since her time at The Mount School, Jocelyn has been an active Quaker and served as Clerk to the sessions of Britain Yearly Meeting. In 2013, she gave a lecture which was published in a book titled A Quaker Astronomer Reflects: Can a Scientist Also Be Religious?, where she addressed the merger of science and faith.

Jocelyn lives out Guilford Core Values. In 2018, she was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, and she decided to use the prize money to create the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund to help female, minority and refugee students to become Physics researchers. Commencement will take place on Founders Lawn.