Astrophysics student from University of Hertfordshire awarded first grant from innovative new scholarship programme

7 July 2020

Tracy Garratt from the University of Hertfordshire is one of four talented students to benefit from an innovative fund set up by leading physicist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Institute of Physics (IOP).

The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund was set up to encourage diversity in physics by assisting talented students from under-represented groups to study PhD physics. Tracy Garratt is studying for a PhD in Astrophysics at the University of Hertfordshire.

Dame Jocelyn was awarded the 2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her role in the discovery of pulsars, and donated her £2.3m Breakthrough prize money to the Institute of Physics to set up the Fund.

In 2017/18, just 23% of physics undergraduate students were female1.

Rachel Youngman, Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics commented: “These four talented and deserving students are embarking on exciting opportunities in physics research that might otherwise have been denied them.”

“To study for a PhD requires considerable commitment, and physics is certainly no exception, but some students also face additional challenges and barriers, for example, financial pressures or caring responsibilities, that require them to demonstrate even more resilience if they are to succeed.

“We know that research is stronger and more effective as the physics community becomes more diverse. So we are all so grateful to Dame Jocelyn for her generosity in establishing the Fund and by doing so sending out such a strong message that everyone can do physics. We are honoured to be working hard to support that message.”

Professor Helen Gleeson, Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Leeds, is the Chair of Judges. She said: “It’s fantastic to have been able to play a part in identifying the first recipients of the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund.

“The competition was very tough, with a large number of qualifying students applying who could benefit from sources of funding such as this.

“The successful applicants are embarking on exciting research projects, and we are looking forward to them inspiring others in their ambassadorial role.”

Tracy Garratt, PhD student at the University of Hertfordshire, commented: “I am delighted to be a Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund awardee.  The fund will provide me with valuable support to continue my PhD alongside being a new mum.”

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