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Jocelyn Bell Burnell is the Best

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a Scottish astrophysicist. When she was a grad student, she discovered pulsars. As is often the case, though, the accolades went to her PhD advisor, who ended up winning the Nobel prize for the discovery.

She is a champion for women in science, and is a truly warm, wonderful person. She gave a talk at UMich when I was there, and I got to meet with her and chat for half an hour. She made me feel like I was a rockstar in my subfield. She was totally gracious about the fact that during her lunch with the grad students they fed her shitty pizza, instead of getting the slightly fancier lunch that they were supposed to get for her. She gave two talks—a technical science talk and a public talk—and knew how to tailor them to her audience (many speakers do not do this successfully).  I don’t know anyone who has a negative word to say about her.


This award is well-deserved, and the fact that she is donating it speaks volumes to the kind of person she is. She would be more than entitled to keep the money for herself and enjoy it.

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