News release

University of Southampton Physicist wins national award

Ref: 12/185

18 October 2012

Kate Sloyan

A University of Southampton physicist has been named as the Very Early Career Woman Physicist of the Year by the Institute of Physics (IOP).

Kate Sloyan, an EPSRC Doctoral Prize Fellow in the Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC), was given the honour at a special ceremony in London.

The IOP award, sponsored by Shell, is a celebration of the achievements of female physicists at a very early stage in their physics careers. It is awarded annually to a woman who is within five years of completing her undergraduate degree in physics and who is either working as a physicist or is engaged in postgraduate study.

Kate beat off competition from other shortlisted candidates to be selected for her research into optical crystal engineering using pulsed laser deposition.

She has developed a simple but powerful tool that allows quick automated growth of multilayer crystal stacks that has already attracted interest from industrial partners.

Kate has also been involved in extensive outreach work encouraging other people, particularly young people, to make a life in science.

Professor Paul Hardaker, Chief Executive at the Institute of Physics (IOP), said: “This year's award was particularly competitive so Kate can be a very proud winner. It is very inspirational to other early career physicists to see Kate already achieving so much at the beginning of a career, with, I'm certain, greater things to follow.”

Kate recently completed her PhD investigating growing crystals with lasers and has now gained EPSRC Doctoral Prize funding to allow her to continue her research in the field.

“I am absolutely delighted and honoured to have received this award. It is recognition for all the hard work I have put in and all the support and encouragement I have been given by my supervisors,” said Kate.

“I am particularly pleased that it reflects the outreach work and other such activities that are not directly related to the project I am working on, things that are ultimately vital but are perhaps not always seen as necessary,” she added.

The judging panel of three distinguished female physicists - Professor Gillian Gehring (University of Sheffield), Professor Averil MacDonald (University of Reading) and Professor Elaine Seddon (University of Manchester) - were impressed with Kate’s achievements. Professor Gehring said: “The judging panel singled her out for her excellent scientific track record and also her initiatives for enthusing others, particularly female students and school children, to enjoy science as much as she does.”

Kate was presented with her £1,000 prize by Sally Martin, chair of the Shell Women's Network UK.