Stars in Their Eyes: Royal Astronomical Society honours for two well-respected Lancaster scientists

Two Lancaster University scientists have won prestigious national accolades by the Royal Astronomical Society

By Faiza Afzaal
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 4:55 am

Professor Farideh Honary scooped the 2022 RAS Award for service to Geophysics, while physicist Dr Licia Ray was awarded the RAS James Dungey Lectureship 2022.

The duo received the top recognition at the annual meeting of the RAS in London.

Professor Honary has played a leading role in establishing the field of radio science within space plasma physics in the UK, and in representing the community internationally.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Lancaster University's Professor Farideh Honary

Speaking of the award, she said: “I can only say that I was pleasantly surprised to hear the news about the award as I had no idea that I was nominated. It is a great feeling to have this recognition and award from the Royal Astronomical Society.”

In 1996, Professor Honary established what is now the Space and Planetary Physics Group at Lancaster University and later founded and led the consortium for the Global Riometer Array (GLORIA), an international collaborative program with over 13 countries. As part of her highly active research work, she has been principal investigator of 40 projects, and a representative on numerous international consortia including URSI: International Union of Radio science, and SUPERMAG.

Dr Robert Massey, Deputy Executive Director of the RAS, said: “She has been an outstanding mentor to her colleagues, including 14 PhD students, and has dedicated a significant amount of her time annually for 25 years to numerous advisory groups and review panels."

Meanwhile, Dr Ray is a well-respected expert in the science of how planetary atmospheres couple to their local space environments, focussing on gas giant planets.

Lancaster physicist Dr Licia Ray

She is a member of the Space & Planetary Physics Group at Lancaster University’s Department of Physics.

Speaking of her recognition, she said: “It is an honour to be awarded the James Dungey lectureship. I look forward to sharing my love of gas giant systems at a future RAS future meeting.”

Dr Ray uses numerical models, and in situ and remote sensing data to understand planetary magnetosphere-ionosphere-thermosphere systems. In particular, she has developed a steady state model of the magnetosphere-ionosphere current system at Jupiter that is able to reproduce many of the observed characteristics of Jupiter's auroral structure.

Her novel modelling and observational analyses have important relevance and applications to the rapidly growing research area of exo-planets.

Among her many achievements, Dr Ray has also developed innovative training sessions for practical laboratory post-graduate teaching assistants that includes disability and gender awareness, new laboratory activities for undergraduate students and she has received excellent feedback from students.

Dr Robert Massey added: “Dr Ray has demonstrated that she is an outstanding communicator of planetary science having delivered well-received lecture courses and talks to non-specialist audiences of all ages. Her commitment is also evidenced by her organisation of science festivals, teacher training and mentoring of secondary school students.”