Institute of Communications and Connected Systems


Professor Polina Bayvel honoured with Royal Society medal

30 August 2023

Head of the Optical Networks Group and ICCS Co-Director, Professor Polina Bayvel has been awarded the 2023 Rumford Medal by the Royal Society for her outstanding contribution to science, making history as the first woman to win this medal.

Polina Bayvel 2023 profile picture

The Royal Society’s prestigious medals and awards programme recognises and celebrates outstanding contributions to science from individuals and teams every summer.

This year, 25 medals and awards were presented, marking excellence across a wide range of scientific research areas and roles. Several of the awards are also accompanied by a prize lecture.

Professor Polina Bayvel CBE FREng FRS receives the Rumford Medal for pioneering contributions to the fundamental physics and nonlinear optics, enabling the realisation of high capacity, broad bandwidth, multi-wavelength, optical communication systems that have underpinned the information technology revolution.

Professor Bayvel, who is the first woman and the first UCL researcher to win the Rumford Medal, said: “I am so deeply honoured to join the list of some of the world’s greatest scientists, responsible for so many discoveries and inventions that have helped understand the world around us and have transformed our lives. It is so extraordinarily humbling, and yet I also feel a tinge of pride at being the first woman to be awarded the prize in its 223-year history and the first UCL recipient.

“I am hugely grateful to my many loved and revered mentors, kind and supportive colleagues and brilliant students. Amongst my colleagues I would like to highlight Professor Robert Killey – we have worked together for over 25 years to make our Optical Networks Group one of the world-leading research groups in optical communications & networks."

Sir Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “On behalf of the Royal Society, I offer my congratulations to all the 2023 recipients of Medals and Awards. The breadth and scope of scientific knowledge and experience reflected in this year’s nominations is nothing short of phenomenal. I am very proud to celebrate such outstanding scientific contributions from so many different specialisms around the world.”

The Royal Society is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. The Society’s fundamental purpose, as it has been since its foundation in 1660, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity.

Read the full UCL News Story below.