Sheffield physicists recognised for their distinguished service to the Institute of Physics

The University of Sheffield's Professor Jamie Hobbs and Dr John Williams have each been announced as winners of a 2019 Institute of Physics Phillips Award.

The Institute of Physics (IOP) is the UK and Ireland’s professional body for practicing physicists, and has a rich history of supporting and nurturing talent, providing learning resources to schools, colleges and higher education institutions, and of advising science and education policy makers.

The Phillips Award was established in 2011 to recognise individuals who have given distinguished service to the Institute of Physics.

Major C E S Phillips was one of the founders of the Institute of Physics in 1920 and served as Honorary Treasurer from 1929 to 1945. He was a distinguished pioneer in medical physics and also served as President of the British Institute of Radiology in 1930-31 and Honorary Secretary of the Royal Institution.

Institute of Physics President, Professor Dame Julia Higgins said: "The Phillips Award is unique, as it celebrates those individuals who have gone above and beyond in their involvement with the Institute of Physics. We rely on our members to engage with us, in order to help us take our work forwards, and I wholeheartedly and unreservedly congratulate and thank this year’s awardees for their support of the IOP and our mission."

Professor Paul Crowther, Head of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said: :It is wonderful that both Jamie and John’s contributions to the IOP have been recognised with this award. Jamie has played a key role in championing biological physics nationally, but such duties are all too rarely recognised, while John has coordinated an outstanding series of Sheffield IOP lectures for the last four decades so will be a hard act to follow."

The award winners will be celebrated at the Institute’s annual Awards Dinner, to be held this year on 19 November at the Royal Lancaster London Hotel.

Professor Jamie Hobbs

Professor Jamie Hobbs

Professor Jamie Hobbs, Director of the Krebs Institute and Professor of Physics, receives the award for his significant contributions to the IOP Biological Physics Group, through building the community and inputting into policy.

Professor Hobbs chaired the IOP Biological Physics Group committee from 2014-2018, acted as secretary between 2012 and 2014 and has been a member since 2008. He has been responsible for innovations that have greatly enhanced the impact of the Biological Physics Group.

In 2014 he established the annual Tom Duke Memorial Lecture Series, a series of UK lectures specifically targeting physics departments without a strong biological physics presence.

He has liaised extensively with the UK biological physics community on behalf of the IOP on current and topical issues, such as the Nurse review and biological physics in the undergraduate physics curriculum.

In addition to his work for the Biological Physics Group, Professor Hobbs helped to increase the external influence of the IOP by co-leading the EPSRC ‘Understanding the Physics of Life’ Network Plus (PoLNet) which ran from 2012 to 2016.

His work with the Biological Physics Group and PoLNet has played a major role in defining the identity of the growing biological physics community in the UK – applying physics to answer biological questions. Being involved in a relatively new and interdisciplinary area of physics, the biological physics community was in particular need of efficient networking, advocacy and leadership and Professor Hobbs has been, and continues to be, outstanding in this role.

Professor Hobbs said: "I feel really honoured to have been given this award and would like to thank the IOP and my colleagues in the Biological Physics Group. Biological physics is a really exciting and growing area of physics and it's also great to see an award that recognises its importance."

Dr John Williams

Dr John Williams

Former Head of Physics and Astronomy and Honorary Reader, Dr John Williams, also receives the award for his significant contributions to the Institute of Physics Yorkshire branch committee and 45 years’ service organising branch lectures in Sheffield, and involvement in national education group activities.

Dr Williams worked at our University from October 1964 until September 2004. He joined the Yorkshire branch committee 45 years ago, in 1974. During this period of time he has served as honorary secretary and treasurer, vice-chair and chair, and more recently as the Sheffield representative. He has also represented the IOP on the University of Sheffield Court - a large body which fostered relations between our University and the community - and organised and hosted the Yorkshire branch lectures of the IOP in Sheffield.

He also organised the national annual schools physics lectures in Sheffield. These were delivered by a series of acclaimed physics communicators on an annual basis throughout the UK. The lectures use demonstrations and interactivity to educate and enthuse students, showing them how their classroom science relates to modern fields of physics.

The lectures, held in Firth Court, regularly attracted some 400 school children and teachers from the areas around Sheffield. They have been of an exceptional standard and attendees have appreciated the opportunity to visit a university and to be entertained by exciting physics.

Dr Williams was also a member of the Institute's Education Group committee and a founder member of the Higher Education Group.

Dr Williams said: “I am delighted and honoured to be given this award. I have enjoyed my long involvement in Institute affairs which I have found most interesting and rewarding.”