Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy in Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics – work recognised by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Academic in Oxford, and the Chancellor of the University of Dundee, Scotland.  She has been President of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society, in 2008 became the first female President of the Institute of Physics for the UK and Ireland, and in 2014 the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was one of the small group of women scientists that set up the Athena SWAN scheme.

She has received many honours, including a $3M Breakthrough Prize in 2018.

The public appreciation and understanding of science have always been important to her, and she is much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster.  In her spare time, she gardens, listens to choral music and is active in the Quakers. She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme – ‘Dark Matter; Poems of Space’.


Tim Byrnes

Tim Byrnes is currently Assistant Professor at NYU Shanghai, New York University’s campus in China.  He is a theoretical physicist working on various topics in quantum information science, particularly in the areas of atomic molecular optics (AMO), quantum information theory, and condensed matter physics.  He started his career in high energy physics in Australia, where he was the first to use DMRG (Density Matrix Renormalization Group) to a lattice gauge theory.  He then moved to Japan where we worked on quantum simulation, which are advanced methods of studying many-body quantum systems.  He was the first to propose novel tasks such as solving lattice gauge theories on a quantum computer, and exploring strongly correlated systems in semiconductor quantum simulators.  After moving to Shanghai, he focuses on using cold atom systems for a novel type of quantum computer using atom chip technologies. 


Elvira Fortunato

Elvira Fortunato is Vice-Rector at NOVA and Director of the Materials Research Center (CENIMAT) of the Associated Laboratory i3N, the Institute of Nanostructures, Nanomodeling and Nanofabrication. Elvira Fortunato pioneered European research on transparent electronics, namely thin-film transistors based on oxide semiconductors, demonstrating that oxide materials may be used as true semiconductors. She is co-inventor of the paper electronics concept worldwide: Paper-e®. In 2008 she won an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council (ERC) for the project “Invisible” and in 2018 she received the second one ERC, with the amount of € 3.5 million. The project is entitled “Multifunctional Digital Materials Platform for Smart Integrated Applications | DIGISMART”.
Her research team is exploring novel active properties in advanced and sustainable multifunctional materials, including oxides as well as novel electronic-active materials including alternative deposition methods, with the main objective of developing eco-friendly technologies and devices to be used and exploited in electronic circuits made of stable amorphous semiconductors able to serve large area smart flexible and conformable surface electronics.

Photo © Rodrigo Mendes | MadreMedia

She is an elected member of: Academy of Engineering (2008); European Academy of Sciences (2016); Lisbon Academy of Sciences (2017) and Academia Europaea (2019). She belongs to the Board of Trustees of the Luso-American Development Foundation (2014). Former Chief Scientific Advisor of the European Commission, between 2016 and 2020.

She is coordinating since 2019 at NOVA University the SPEAR project, an European platform for supporting and implementing plans for gender equality in academia and research.


Nuno Loureiro

Nuno F. Loureiro is Professor of Nuclear Science and Engineering and Professor of Physics at MIT. He majored in Physics at Instituto Superior Técnico in Lisbon (Portugal) in 2000 and obtained a Ph.D. in Physics at Imperial College in London (UK) in 2005. He did post-doctoral work at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory between 2005-07, and at the UKAEA Culham Centre for Fusion Energy. Prior to joining MIT in 2016 Loureiro worked as a researcher at the Institute for Plasmas and Nuclear Fusion at IST Lisbon. He was awarded the American Physical Society Thomas H. Stix Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Plasma Physics Research in 2015, and an NSF CAREER award in 2017.  He is an MIT Bose Fellow.

Loureiro has an active interest in several fundamental aspects of magnetized plasma dynamics, such as magnetic reconnection, magnetic field generation and amplification, confinement and transport in fusion plasmas, and turbulence in strongly magnetized, weakly collisional plasmas. 


João Penedones

João Penedones studied physics at the University of Porto where he obtained his degree in 2002. He then got the Certificate of Advanced Studies in Mathematics from the University of Cambridge in 2003. In 2007 he got the PhD from Universidade do Porto and École Normale Supérieure, Paris for his thesis “High Energy Scattering in the AdS/CFT Correspondence”. He then worked successively as a PostDoc until 2011 at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, and at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, Waterloo, Canada. From 2011 to 2016 he was Research Fellow at the Universidade do Porto, Portugal.

In February 2016, he was appointed Professor in Physics at EPFL. Currently, he leads the “Fields and Strings Laboratory”.


Petra Rudolf

Petra Rudolf was born in Munich, Germany. She studied Physics at the La Sapienza, University of Rome, where she specialized in Solid State Physics. In 1987 she joined the National Surface Science laboratory TASC INFM in Trieste for the following five years, interrupted by two extended periods in 1989 and 1990/1991 at Bell Labs in the USA, where she started to work on the newly discovered fullerenes. In 1993 she moved to the University of Namur, Belgium where she received her PhD in 1995 and then quickly moved from postdoctoral researcher to lecturer and senior lecturer before taking up the Chair in Experimental Solid State Physics at the University in Groningen in 2003.  Her principal research interests lie in the areas of condensed matter physics and surface science, particularly molecular motors, 2D solids, organic thin films and inorganic-organic hybrids. She has published >260 peer-reviewed articles and 32 book chapters. 17 BSc, 34 MSc and 27 PhD students got their degree under her guidance so far.

Photo © Sylvia Germes

Dr. Rudolf is the President of the European Physical Society; she was the President of the Belgian Physical Society in 2000/2001 and was elected member of the German Academy of Science and Engineering, honorary member of the Italian Physical Society, Fellow of the Institute of Physics, Lid van verdienst of the Dutch Physical Society and Fellow of the American Physical Society. For her work on molecular motors she received the 2007 Descartes Prize of the European Commission. In 2013 she was appointed officer of the Order of Orange Nassau by H.M. Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands.