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Lord Rees receives Copley Medal 2023

Trinity Fellow Professor Lord Martin Rees has been awarded the prestigious Copley Medal by the Royal Society for ‘being arguably the most distinguished theoretical astrophysicist of his generation.’

Lord Rees is the UK’s Astronomer Royal and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He was Master of Trinity College 2004-2012 and President of the Royal Society 2005-2010.

Lord Rees’ research has advanced knowledge in domains ranging from galaxy formation to cosmic jets, black holes, gamma ray bursts as well as more speculative aspects of cosmology – in particular, whether we live in a multiverse – and the prospect of detecting extra-terrestrial life.

He has published more than 500 research papers and 11 books, mostly recently, If Science is to Save Us (Polity Press 2022).

Lord Rees said:

It is of course deeply gratifying to have my lifetime efforts recognised by award of the Copley Medal.

But I’ve had enough experience of prize juries to realise the substantial arbitrariness and luck in all such awards!

I’ve been especially fortunate to have injected fruitful ideas into the interpretation of new data in several areas of astronomy, and to have collaborated with many colleagues at different phases of my career. I would acknowledge especially (in alphabetical order), Mitch Begelman, Roger Blandford, Andy Fabian, Peter Meszaros, and Simon White.

The Copley Medal recognizes sustained, outstanding achievements in any field of science and is believed to be the oldest scientific prize in the world – first awarded in 1731, 170 years before the first Nobel Prize.

The Copley Medal. Image: The Royal Society.

The Royal Society said of the Copley 2023 Medallist:

The Copley Medal 2023 is awarded to Martin Rees (The Lord Rees of Ludlow OM Kt HonFREng FRS) for being arguably the most distinguished theoretical astrophysicist of his generation, responsible for numerous and varied conceptual breakthroughs, with influence spreading far beyond the specialist academic community.

Previous winners of the award include Benjamin Franklin, Dorothy Hodgkin, Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin. In 2022 the Oxford-AstraZeneca Vaccine Team received the Copley Medal.

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