UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences


Professor Jennifer Thomas awarded Royal Society Professorship

9 April 2020

Six world-class scientists, including a Professor of Physics at UCL, have been awarded Royal Society Research Professorships, the Royal Society’s premier research awards.

Professor Jennifer Thomas

Professor Jennifer Thomas CBE FRS has been included in the six world-class scientists awarded Royal Society Research Professorships, the Society’s premier research awards.

These prestigious appointments provide long-term support for internationally recognised scientists of exceptional accomplishments from a range of diverse fields, including biochemistry, genetics, mathematics, chemistry, computer science, developmental biology and physics.

Professor Thomas (UCL Physics & Astronomy) was awarded the Royal Society Professorship for her proposal: Peering at neutrino oscillations with a magnifier. Through this work she aims to improve our understanding of neutrinos by building detection instruments effective, and affordable enough, to be used in a megaton detector array in order to capture enough of these hard-to-detect particles and measure their properties with very high precision.

Because neutrinos have a near-zero mass, they are the “ultimate cosmic messengers” travelling through space virtually unimpeded at nearly the speed of light – often passing right through Earth without colliding with another particle. Scientists therefore rely on massive detectors, often made of water where the fleeting flash of Cherenkov radiation can be detected when a neutrino does collide with a nucleon in the water. Professor Thomas’ work could make detectors on the megaton scale a reality and open a new window on the neutrino.

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, said: “We are delighted with the six appointments made in this year’s Royal Society Research Professorship competition.

“The newly appointed Research Professors join a world-class cohort of leading scientists that have and continue to make exceptional contributions to science. This type of investment in world-leading talent is crucial to the continued success of UK science.”