Birmingham physicists receive prestigious Institute of Physics Awards

Bill and Curt
Award winners Dr Curt von Keyserlingk (Left) and Professor Bill Chaplin (Right)

Two University of Birmingham academics have clinched prestigious awards from the Institute of Physics for their outstanding contributions to science.

Professor Bill Chaplin has been awarded the Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize, while Dr Curt von Keyserlingk has been awarded the James Clerk Maxwell Medal and Prize for early career research.

The Fred Hoyle Medal and Prize was established in 2008 by the Institute of Physics for distinguished contributions to astrophysics, gravitational physics or cosmology. The medal is named after astronomer Fred Hoyle who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis.

Professor Chaplin received the Medal for the revolutionary progress he has made in our understanding of the interiors of stars, in conjunction with his leadership of the solar-type asteroseismology programme of the NASA Kepler mission.  Professor Chaplin has made major contributions to asteroseismology, the study of the normal modes of oscillation of stars, and the use of asteroseismic characterisation for exoplanet studies.

Of his award, Professor Chaplin said: “I am incredibly honoured to have received this award. Our research on solar-type stars using asteroseismology has involved many valued colleagues from Birmingham and around the world, all as part of the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium (KASC). I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them.

“It has been very much a team effort, and as such I regard the award as a recognition of the achievements of the entire collaboration, and of the increasing significance and reach of asteroseismology. It is no overstatement to say that the NASA Kepler Mission has revolutionized our ability to study stars in this way.

“Whilst we continue to exploit its wonderful data, we are also lucky to have new data on the brightest stars across the sky courtesy of the NASA TESS Mission, with the European Space Agency PLATO Mission already on the horizon. Our field has a bright future.”

The James Clerk Maxwell Medal and Prize has been awarded annually since 1962 to recognize outstanding early-career contributions to theoretical physics. Dr von Keyserlingk’s received the Medal in recognition of his remarkable discoveries in non-equilibrium physics, including the discovery of new families of driven phases of matter, and revealing the unexpected manner in which information spreads in quantum many-body systems.

Reacting to his award, Dr von Keyserlingk said: “I am honoured to receive this award, and want to thank the Institute of Physics for its work in promoting science in the UK.

“I'm grateful to the University of Birmingham, which has supported my research over the past few years. I would also like to thank my many mentors and collaborators in Oxford, Princeton, Munich and Birmingham.

“I think this award partly reflects the fact that my area of research has promising applications. For example, I'm currently using the theoretical insights I've helped develop to shed light on spin and energy conduction in certain magnetic materials.”