NUI Galway physicist receives prestigious Appleton Medal
Professor of physics at NUI Galway, Colin O’Dowd.
By Roisin Peddle
Professor of physics at NUI Galway, Colin O’Dowd, has won a prestigious academic award from the Institute of Physics in London.
Professor O’Dowd is a director of the Ryan Institute’s Centre for Climate and Air Pollution Studies. He was awarded the Appleton Medal for his research in environmental and atmospheric physics, in particular his work with aerosols, the tiny particles which can affect cloud formation and climate change.
“It is a great honour to be recognised by as prestigious an organisation as the Institute of Physics, especially as this particular accolade dates back to 1941,” Professor O’Dowd said. “This award is an indicator of the international standing of research carried out at NUI Galway.”
The Appleton Medal is named after Sir Edward Appleton, a British physicist who received the Nobel Prize in 1947 for his achievements in ionospheric physics. His experiments proved the existence of a layer of ionised gas in the upper atmosphere, which is now known as the Appleton layer. The London-based Institute of Physics awards the medal every two years, honouring physicists who are making important contributions to science.
Professor O’Dowd is internationally known for his work in atmospheric composition, air pollution, and climate change, and has received the Smoluchowski Award and a doctorate from the University of Manchester. He has also been named a Fellow of both the Institute of Physics and Royal Meteorological Society, and he has been given membership of the Royal Irish Academy, the highest academic honour in Ireland.
Much of his work centres on NUI Galway’s Mace Head atmospheric research station, which is one of the most advanced stations of its kind. Located in Connemara, data from this station is used by climatologists around the world to predict climate change.