Celebrating International Women’s Day: Daphne Jackson

2021 marks 50 years since Daphne Jackson became the first female Professor of Physics in the UK. A lifelong campaigner for women in science and engineering careers, Daphne Jackson began her research career in theoretical nuclear physics at the Battersea College of Technology (now the University of Surrey). She was appointed Professor of Physics at the University of Surrey in 1971, and in 1985 devised a Fellowship scheme to help researchers return to their profession following a career break. The Daphne Jackson Trust still supports STEM researchers today. 

Photograph of Daphne Jackson giving a lecture in the Department of Physics, 1975 (US/PH/2/6/562). From the University of Surrey Archive, © University of Surrey.

Jackson was awarded her PhD, titled “The nuclear density distribution and optical model parameters of Li6”, in 1962, and we hold her original thesis in the archives alongside other material. As a distinguished theoretical nuclear physicist Jackson went on to publish over 50 papers on the use of nuclear physics in medicine during her career, and contributed to the fight against cancer through her work with the Institute for Cancer Research and Royal Marsden Hospital, which was recognised with an OBE in 1987.

Poster for the inaugural lecture given by Daphne Jackson entitled “Physics for Optimists”, 1974 (P/P5/397/1). From the University of Surrey Archive, © University of Surrey.