Diversity and inclusion

Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund

An innovative fund instigated by leading physicist Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and the Institute of Physics to encourage greater diversity in physics by assisting PhD physics students from under-represented groups.


The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund is for full- or part-time graduates wishing to study towards a doctorate in physics and from groups that are currently under-represented in physics.

Watch the video below to hear from Jocelyn on why the fund was set up, why people should apply and other ways to be involved.

Call for new members for the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund Panel

The fund was set up with a generous donation from Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell three years ago and has now been able to make awards that support the graduate studies of 21 students from minority groups in the UK and Ireland, both through top-up awards and by co-funding of PhD scholarships.

We would like to recruit two or three new members to the Panel that oversees the awards. Potential candidates should have knowledge or experience of the recruitment of PhD students and a strong interest in inclusion and diversity.

As one of our retiring members represents the early career physics community, we would particularly welcome applications from early career physicists (including those who have not yet got their PhD). The time commitment totals approximately five days per year.

The Panel is Chaired by Professor Helen Gleeson, University of Leeds ([email protected]), who can be contacted with any informal enquiries about being a Panel member.

Applications comprising a short (two-page) CV and a paragraph explaining why you are interested in joining the Panel should be submitted to [email protected] by Thursday 30 June 2022.

Meet the 2021 awardees

We're delighted to reveal the eight awardees of the 2021 Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund. They are:

About Jocelyn Bell Burnell

The fund is made possible thanks to Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell's generous donation of her £2.3m Breakthrough Prize.

The woman behind the fund

In her journey to the highest levels of physics achievement, Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell has faced many challenges.

Read about her journey

Jocelyn's journey of discovery

In this interview with the University of Cambridge, Jocelyn recalls the extraordinary moment she discovered pulsars, and talks about her altruistic efforts with the IOP to help more under-represented students study physics. 

Watch the video on YouTube

Read the Physics World interview:
Jocelyn Bell Burnell reveals the motivations behind her new $3m graduate-student fund

Who can apply

The fund is for full- or part-time graduates wishing to study towards a doctorate in physics, from groups that are currently under-represented in physics.

Hear the inspiring stories of these physics PhD students

Stephanie Merritt, 32, third year PhD at Queen’s University Belfast, astronomer specialising in the atmospheres of exoplanets, from Surrey.

Ozioma (Ozi) Kamalu, 24, fourth year undergrad at Edinburgh, studying astrophysics, originally from Bristol.

Selina Dhinsey, 24, second year PhD student at Liverpool studying the medical physics end of particle physics, from Wolverhampton.

How to apply

Applications for 2021/2022 are now closed.

You can still view a sample application form (PDF, 293KB) to give you an idea of what to expect during the application process.

You can also email [email protected] for further information or you can register your interest in the fund to receive further updates as they become available.

Frequently asked questions

Visit our FAQ page for further details about the fund.

You can also find further information for students and prospective host universities/institutions below.

Downloadable guide

A guide to the fund

Download the guide for more information about eligibility criteria and information for students and prospective host universities/institutions.

Download the guide (PDF, 2.3MB)

Information on progress reports for studentships

As a part of the monitoring and evaluation of the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund studentships, the IOP requires the student and their lead supervisor to submit a progress report at various intervals during the award.

How the fund is administered

The fund is administered and managed by the IOP and supported by a panel that reviews qualifying applicants and selects those to be funded. Find out more about how the fund is administered.

Committed to opening up physics

Professor Helen Gleeson, Cavendish Professor of Physics at the University of Leeds and chair of the selection panel for the Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund, explains why she is committed to opening up physics to people from non-traditional backgrounds.

Read more from Helen

Other sources of funding

For other sources of funding, studentships and scholarships that you may be eligible for, please see the links below:

Contact us