Storm named after Northern Ireland born astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell at the 2018 Breakthrough Prize award ceremony
Northern Ireland born astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

Northern Ireland born astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell, hopes that Storm Joceyln is 'a useful stirring-up' rather than a destructive event, as the latest storm is named after her.

Storm Joceyln was the name given to the second storm to brace the UK in 48 hours, by Met Eireann.

On Monday Storm Isha brought heavy rain and strong winds to the UK, causing widesparead disruption to travel and leaving tens of thousands of people without electricity. One man was killed in a crash in Limavady.

Met Éireann revealed that storm Jocelyn will hit on Tuesday, bringing strong winds and rain to Northern Ireland and much of Britain.

The UK Met Office and Irish service Met Éireann launched their first "Name our Storms" campaign in 2015.

Most years, they draw the names from a shortlist of favorite's submitted by the public. However, for the 2023-24 season, the Met Office altered to naming a number of storms after prominent scientists, meteorologists and others "who work to keep people safe in times of severe weather".

In 1967 Dame Jocelyn discovered a new type of star called a pulsar, one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century, but it was her male PhD supervisor who was awarded the Nobel prize for physics in 1974.

As well as inspiring a new generation of female scientists Jocelyn worked hard pushing boundaries to make science a more diverse and inclusive industry.

Dame Jocelyn said her background had pushed her to work harder at university, studies which included the discovery of pulsars, a form of rotating neutron star which emits pulses of electromagnetic radiation as it spins.

“In the late 60s, early 70s, when all this was happening, science was very male dominated and, in Britain, white male dominated," she said.

“I came in as a female and came into Cambridge from the north and west of the UK – I had never been that far south before.

“I was really scared, I thought they had made a mistake admitting me, reckoned they were going to throw me out in due course but decided to work my very hardest so that when they threw me out I wouldn’t have a guilty conscience and I was being incredibly thorough.”

Asked if she felt she should have been awarded the Nobel, she said “they don’t often give the Nobel Prize to students” and “it’s perceived as a senior man’s prize”.

In 2018 Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was awarded the lucrative Breakthrough Prize for her work on the discovery of pulsars and a lifetime of scientific achievement. The astrophysicist decided to donate the £2.3 million prize in an effort to increase diversity amongst leading scientists.

When it was revealed that a storm would take Dame Burnell said: “I am delighted to feature in this distinguished list celebrating science and hope that if a potential Storm Jocelyn happens, it may be a useful stirring-up rather than a destructive event."

“Science advancements increase our knowledge and understanding of the world around us, and I think this is wonderful example of science-based services communications.”

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