Christ Church’s ‘Dr Becky’ wins the Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship

Dr Becky SmethurstDr Rebecca (Becky) Smethurst, astrophysicist and Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, has been awarded the 2020 Caroline Herschel Prize Lectureship.

The prize was established by The William Herschel Society in association with the Royal Astronomical Society in 2018 to honour Caroline Herschel (1750-1848), the sister of the astronomer William Herschel, who became a celebrated astronomer in her own right and was the first woman to be paid for the role.

Becky is a keen science communicator and has over 100,000 followers of her YouTube channel ‘Dr Becky’, in which she discusses the latest ‘space news’ and explains complicated concepts from astrophysics in a fun and relatable way.

Upon receiving the Herschel Prize, Dr Becky said: “I am absolutely delighted to be awarded this Lecture Prize. Caroline Herschel was an incredible astronomer, so to win something with her name attached is a real honour.”

Becky’s research interests include the evolutionary pathways of galaxies and star formation. Her current research focuses on the co-evolution of galaxies and their supermassive black holes, in particular the process of ‘quenching’ whereby galaxies stop forming stars.

The prize lecture is generally given at the University of Bath and the Royal Astronomical Society in November, but may be rearranged due to Covid-19 restrictions. Becky’s lecture entitled “Supermassive Black Holes: The Ultimate Galaxy Killers?” will incorporate her most recent research.