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Nobel-Snubbed Female Physicist Wins $3M Prize

September 10, 2018
 
 

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a Northern Irish astrophysicist who discovered radio pulsars in 1967 when she was a graduate student at the University of Cambridge, was snubbed when her male collaborators received the Nobel Prize in physics in 1974 for that work. She was recently awarded a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her discovery, and she has announced that she’s donating the nearly $3 million award to fund female, underrepresented minority and refugee students becoming physics researchers, BBC News reported.

"I don't want or need the money myself and it seemed to me that this was perhaps the best use I could put to it," Burnell said, adding that physics hiring still suffers from “unconscious bias” and that underrepresented groups will bring new ideas to the field. "I found pulsars because I was a minority person and feeling a bit overawed at Cambridge," she said. "I was both female but also from the northwest of the country and I think everybody else around me was southern English. So I have this hunch that minority folk bring a fresh angle on things and that is often a very productive thing. In general, a lot of breakthroughs come from left field."

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