Space scientist given Royal Astronomical Society's highest honour
Release Date 12 January 2015
A University of Reading space scientist has followed in the footsteps of Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking in being awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Professor Mike Lockwood will be given the 2015 Gold Medal for Geophysics at the Society's 2015 National Astronomy Meeting in July this year.
Professor Lockwood said: "It is a huge honour to receive an RAS gold medal, because so many famous scientists have won it in the past, including some who made crucial contributions to the development of our understanding of the Sun and how it influences the Earth - the fields I work in.
"My work has built directly on theirs and I hold them in the greatest respect. They were often able to gain inspired insights from data which today we would think of as noisy and incomplete.
"RAS has been a huge source of support all through my career. My first ever science presentation was at an RAS meeting and it was, in truth, pretty poor at best - but the RAS provided a supportive environment where I could learn from the established names in the field who were always approachable and nurturing."
Professor Lockwood's research began with studies of how Earth's upper atmosphere is influenced by the Sun and, in particular, through the processes associated with the aurora - known in the northern hemisphere as the 'northern lights'. Much of this work was done using the state-of-the-art radars in northern Scandinavia, called EISCAT (pictured).
His work has subsequently allowed him to place tight limits on the extent to which solar variability has influenced Earth's climate, but has also opened up the field of 'space climate'. This allows scientists to understand how high-tech systems, such as satellites and electricity networks, may face changing risks from solar storms in the future.
Professor Simon Chandler-Wilde, head of Reading's School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said: "We are delighted that Professor Mike Lockwood is to receive the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the society's highest honour.
"This award recognises Mike's many fundamental contributions to the understanding of solar variability and its influences on the earth's atmosphere and geomagnetic field, as well as the important practical implications of this work."
Professor Lockwood's citation by RAS is available here.