UK ATC's Professor Wayne Holland awarded prestigious astronomy medal

12 January 2018

Wayne Holland

Professor Wayne Holland
(Credit: STFC)

Professor Wayne Holland, Project Scientist at STFC’s UK Astronomy Technology Centre in Edinburgh, has been awarded the Royal Astronomical Society’s 2018 Jackson-Gwilt Medal. The award recognises outstanding invention, improvement, or development of astronomical instrumentation or techniques.

Professor Holland, who is also a visiting professor at the University of Edinburgh, has been cited for his substantial contributions to the evolution of submillimetre astronomy, and in particular his leadership of SCUBA-2, the world's most powerful submillimetre camera.

From 2000 until 2013 Professor Holland was the lead scientist for the £15million SCUBA-2 camera on the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in Hawaii, having pioneered the development of the bolometric detectors used on previous instruments.

In response to receiving this award, Professor Holland said: “It is a great honour to receive the Jackson-Gwilt medal from the Royal Astronomical Society. I have been privileged to have played a part in the development of submillimetre astronomy over the past few decades. SCUBA-2, in particular, was a very risky project at the time, bringing together a number of new and innovative technologies never before used in an astronomical instrument.

“I’d like to dedicate this award to the skill and dedication of the international team of scientists and engineers that made this pioneering instrument happen.”

SCUBA-2 has gone on to challenge our understanding of the Universe. Its findings are proving to be revolutionary in cosmology, nearby galaxies, star formation in the Milky Way, protoplanetary and debris discs, and evolved stars. Recently, for example, SCUBA-2 was involved in research suggesting our Sun had a companion twin at its formation 4.5 billion years ago – an idea many astronomers believed, but the evidence was scarce.

Director of the UK ATC, Professor Gillian Wright, commented: “Wayne has dedicated his career to developing submillimetre astronomy and instrumentation and I am absolutely delighted that his work has been recognised by the award of this prestigious medal.”

Professor Holland will receive his award at the joint annual meeting of the European Astronomical Society (EAS) and the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM) of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) in April 2018 in Liverpool.

Media contact

Harry Loney
UK ATC Communications Manager
Tel: 0131 6688 212

Notes to Editors

The Royal Astronomical Society presents several awards, medals and prizes as part of its remit to support and encourage scientists working in the fields of astronomy and geophysics.

“Citation for the 2018 RAS 'A' Jackson-Gwilt Medal
Professor Wayne Holland

The 2018 Jackson-Gwilt Medal in Astronomy is awarded to Professor Wayne Holland.

Professor Wayne Holland has made great contributions to the evolution of submillimetre astronomy from the era of single-pixel instruments to large-format imagers, and in particular in his leadership of SCUBA-2, the world's most powerful submillimetre camera. He pioneered the development of the bolometric detectors that were used in the revolutionary SCUBA instrument for the JCMT, and became the SCUBA Instrument Scientist.

He led the development of the ambitious next generation transition-edge superconducting detector camera SCUBA-2 as Project Scientist. Developing, building and operating it involved many challenges in optics, cryogenics, detector technology and in instrument operation and data processing. SCUBA-2, like SCUBA before it, defined the state of the art worldwide, proving revolutionary in cosmology, nearby galaxies, star formation in the Milky Way, protoplanetary and debris discs, and evolved stars.

For these reasons, Professor Holland is awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal.”

RAS awards.

Read more about the STFC built SCUBA-2 instrument.

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