“A true role model for women in physics”: Newnham alumna wins 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize

Dr Samaya Nissanke, astrophysicist and Newnham alumna, has won the 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize.

Dr Nissanke is now based at the GRAPPA Institute in the University of Amsterdam. She works on gravitational wave astrophysics and has played a founding role in the emerging field of multi-messenger astronomy

Dr Samaya Nissanke

The prize was awarded for “development of novel techniques to extract fundamental physics from astronomical data”, and is shared with her collaborators, Jo Dunkley of Princeton and Kendrick Smith of the Perimeter Institute.

The New Horizons in Physics Prize is one of six prizes awarded to outstanding scientists in recognition of early-career achievements in physics and mathematics.

Dr Nissanke said, “I am absolutely delighted to receive the New Horizons prize with colleagues Jo Dunkley and Kendrick Smith. I started working in gravitational wave astrophysics when I was an undergraduate at Newnham and the Cavendish labs, and immediately became hooked on the field and scientific research. I am so grateful to the fantastic teaching and support that I received at Newnham from a whole host of tutors, especially Rachael Padman, the Director of Studies for Physics.”

“I am so grateful to the fantastic teaching and support that I received at Newnham”

Dr Padman said, “I have followed Samaya’s career with interest after her time at Newnham. I am absolutely delighted by this award, which recognises the great contribution Samaya has made to fundamental astrophysics, and follows on her share of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics for the detection of gravitational waves with LIGO. She is a true role model for women in physics.”

The prize of $100,000 is part of a suite of prizes awarded by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, which recognises achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics, “disciplines that ask the biggest questions and seek the deepest explanations.” The prize is funded by a grant from the Milner Foundation.

Dr Nissanke tweets at @samayanissanke