Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell


Executive, University Executive Office

Portrait photograph of Jocelyn Bell Burnell
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Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was named Chancellor of the University in 2018.

The role of Chancellor is the most senior in the University and involves acting as its ceremonial head, presiding over Academic Ceremonies and acting as President of the Graduates’ Association.

Dame Jocelyn is an astrophysicist, best known for her discovery of ‘pulsars’ — rotating neutron stars that appear to pulse as the radio beam they emit sweeps repeatedly across the Earth. Her observation, made together with her supervisor, Antony Hewish, is considered to be one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the twentieth century.

She has been a role model and champion for young students and particularly for women in science. She is the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Dame Jocelyn was awarded an honorary degree by the University in 2017. She succeeds Lord Naren Patel and is the fifth Chancellor of the University over its 50-year history, following HM The Queen Mother (1967-77), Lord Dalhousie (1977-92), Sir James Black (1992-2006), and Lord Patel (2006-2017).