Top scientist gets DCU honour

DCU paid tribute to Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, a British astrophysicist who is famous for her discovery of the first radio pulsars with her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell  was commended for her lifelong commitment to science, her contribution to  astronomy and astrophysics as well as her her advocacy for women to pursue roles in the male dominated world of science.

President of DCU, Professor Brian MacCraith commended Burnell in her work promoting woman in the field of science, and acting as a role model for students, graduates and all woman. He highlighted the low percentage of female students talking part in many science related degree programmes, “One of the biggest issues in this area is the relatively poor take up of STEM degrees and STEM careers by young women. Lower than 15 per cent in many degree programmes – lower than 25 per cent across all STEM careers in Ireland,” said MacCraith.

Traditionally women have been poorly represented in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths Burnell has stood out as a woman who has broken through the barrier, leading the way for others. “Apart from equity issues, this is a horrendous waste of talent.” Professor MacCraith said. “Dame Jocelyn has been to the fore publicly and internationally in highlighting, in acting willingly as a role model and, most of all, pursuing relentlessly the advancement of Women in Science.”

While accepting an honorary doctorate from the university she encourages students to reach their potential reminding them that regardless  of gender they can succeed. “You have a right to be here, you will have a right to be here wherever you go next and I hope it goes well for you.”

Rachael Martin

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