Early career prize for Lancaster physicist

Cherry Canovan with Professor Amanda Cooper-Sarkar of Oxford University who presented her with the prize Cherry Canovan with Professor Amanda Cooper-Sarkar of Oxford University who presented her with the prize

Cherry Canovan, who is studying mathematical physics at Lancaster University and the Cockcroft Institute, was named the Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year at a ceremony in London in May 2011.

The prestigious award, organised by the Institute of Physics and sponsored by Shell, celebrates the work of female physicists who have completed their first physics degree in the last five years. Successful candidates must show that they have made a substantial academic contribution as well as supporting and encouraging others in the field.

Cherry was awarded the £1,000 prize for her published work on problems in classical electrodynamics, as well as her interest in helping other women get involved in physics. She founded the department's Women in Physics group two years ago, since when it has held many meetings and encouraged women from all career stages and research groups to get to know one another.

The 39-year-old took an unusual route into science, having had a successful career in journalism before embarking on an undergraduate physics degree just after the birth of her first child. She said: "I started to study physics with some trepidation, but I need not have been worried: the advice and support given to me by the department was of the first order. This experience has encouraged me to try to offer others the help and support that was so generously given to me.

"I am delighted and honoured to have been awarded this prize, which I hope will encourage other women - and who knows, maybe even some other young mums! - to believe that they too can have a successful career in physics."

Cherry's PhD supervisor, Professor Robin Tucker, said: "I am very pleased to learn of this award for Cherry. I hope it will encourage other women to realise that studying mathematical physics can be rewarding in many different ways!"

Ann Marks, founder of the Very Early Career Woman Award, said, "Cherry's is an outstanding success story. It's wonderful to meet a young physicist with such a bright future ahead of her who has overcome the combined challenges of career change and new motherhood. Amazingly, she has also found time to encourage others. I congratulate her on her ability and drive."

Fri 13 May 2011

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