“We are made of star stuff” - Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell Headlines STEM talk at IT Carlow during Engineers Week


Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, the astrophysicist from Northern Ireland who co-discovered the first radio pulsars in 1967 as a postgraduate student, leading to the awarding to her supervisor of the Nobel Prize for Physics, and who is credited with "one of the most significant scientific achievements of the 20th century", was a special guest at Institute of Technology Carlow today as part of the college’s events to mark National Engineers Week.

The celebrated researcher and academic gave a special STEM talk entitled “We are made of star stuff” to staff, college students and local TY students in which she described, “how the chemical elements that are found in our bodies were originally created and how they came to be here”. The stimulating talk was followed by a lively Q&A session.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was joined on stage by Aoife Maria Ryan, a PhD researcher based at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS). She is developing a technique to optimise interferometric imaging of the sun using the Irish station  I-LOFAR (Low Frequency Array). Aoife is among the first generation of researchers to operate I-LOFAR and developed radio-specific software that will be used by the solar community in Ireland.

Dr. Yvonne Kavanagh, Assistant Registrar of Institute of Technology Carlow and Chair of the Institute of Physics in Ireland acted as Master of Ceremonies. 

"We are delighted to welcome Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell to Institute  of Technology Carlow. It is a privilege to welcome the woman who changed our view of the universe when she discovered pulsars. This work was completed as a postgraduate student demonstrating how valuable and impactful basic research is.  She is the recipient of numerous awards but the most important and recent of these is the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (£2.3Million) which she donated to the Institute of Physics to promote females and diverse underrepresented groups to engage with physics", commented Dr. Kavanagh.

Dame Bell Burnell’s visit to Institute of Technology Carlow coincides with the 200th anniversary of the famous Carlow physicist John Tyndell. A biography of John Tyndell, signed by its author Roland Jackson, was presented to Dame Burnell by Dr Yvonne Kavanagh.