Speech: The Adams-Sweeting Lecture by Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, Welcome Remarks, 27 March 2019

Good evening, and welcome to the University of Surrey’s second Adams-Sweeting Lecture.

This lecture series is the University’s flagship public event, featuring eminent speakers, experts and innovators at the frontiers of science and technology. We are very fortunate to have this unique opportunity to feed our collective curiosity and expand our minds.

It is named in honour of two Surrey trailblazers of science and technology, both of whom are here this evening:

Professor Alf Adams is a well-known British physicist who invented the strained-layer quantum-well laser, considered to be one of the top ten greatest UK inventions of all time. It now powers internet streaming.

Sir Martin Sweeting is renowned worldwide as a pioneer of modern small satellites – a concept that has fundamentally changed the economics of the space industry. He is the founder and executive chairman of Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd.

Tonight we are privileged to hear another titan of modern science, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell.

In a moment, Jim al-Khalili will formally introduce our honoured guest speaker and her achievements.

Recently I listened to a podcast of Jim interviewing Dame Jocelyn for his Radio 4 programme ‘The Life Scientific’. I must share with you how moved I was at hearing Dame Jocelyn describing her journey as an astrophysicist, her struggle to establish and maintain a career and credibility as a female scientist, and her unyielding perseverance in the face of challenges that most of us will never have to confront.

She said, ‘I am made of steel – and always have been.’

It is that spirit of determination that we salute tonight.

In science, we are always at a new frontier of knowledge and understanding. Our research and experiments require faith, self-belief and the ability to play the ‘long game’. This requires an extraordinary person, with rare qualities. The Adams-Sweeting Lectures bring these people to Surrey, and our scientific endeavours are much richer as a result.

I hope you all enjoy this evening’s lecture.

Thank you.