Bell Burnell Scholarship for talented Lancaster Physics student


Katarina Mamic © Institute of Physics
Katarina Mamic

PhD student Katarina Mamic has been awarded a scholarship set up by leading physicist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Institute of Physics (IOP).

The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund was set up to encourage diversity in physics by assisting talented students from under-represented groups to study PhD Physics.

Katarina, who is from a single parent family in Croatia, said the scholarship is a lifeline.

“It makes all the difference in the world! I'm supporting myself, there is no one else helping me financially in any way, and because I'm a non-UK student I'm not eligible for any maintenance loans. So I had to work a lot throughout my undergraduate degree.”

Her postgraduate research is into infrared detectors which could one day improve life for millions of people with diabetes around the world.

“I work predominantly on infrared detectors – semiconductor devices. We’re trying to build something that can detect different wavelengths of light and tell you someone’s blood sugar level, so that we can help people with diabetes. There are millions of diabetic people around the globe and currently to measure blood sugar you have to prick your finger. We're working on an infrared detector that can do it non-invasively, without ever breaking the skin.”

The Bell Burnell Scholarship is named after Dame Jocelyn who was awarded the 2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for her role in the discovery of pulsars, and donated her £2.3m Breakthrough prize money to the Institute of Physics to set up the Fund. 

Rachel Youngman, Deputy Chief Executive of the Institute of Physics, said: “To study for a PhD requires considerable commitment, and Physics is certainly no exception, but some students also face additional challenges and barriers, for example, financial pressures or caring responsibilities, that require them to demonstrate even more resilience if they are to succeed.

“We know that research is stronger and more effective as the physics community becomes more diverse. So we are all so grateful to Dame Jocelyn for her generosity in establishing the Fund and by doing so sending out such a strong message that everyone can do physics. We are honoured to be working hard to support that message.”

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