News Release

University of Surrey Professor and BBC presenter receives Stephen Hawking Medal

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, renowned University of Surrey physicist, author and BBC broadcaster, has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication.

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Surrey

Professor Stephen Hawking at the Press Launch of STARMUS 2016

image: This is an image of Professor Stephen Hawking and Professor Garik Israelian at STARMUS 2016 view more 

Credit: STARMUS Festival 2016

Professor Jim Al-Khalili OBE, renowned University of Surrey physicist, author and BBC broadcaster, has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Stephen Hawking Medal for Science Communication.

The medal is the first of its kind and recognises the work of those helping to promote public awareness of science through different disciplines such as music, the arts and cinema. Professor Al-Khalili, will be presented with the prestigious Medal at a special ceremony during STARMUS on 29 June. Presenting the award will be world-famous astrophysicist, Stephen Hawking; STARMUS founder, Professor Garik Israelian; Alexei Leonov, the first human to conduct extra-vehicular activity (EVA) and exiting the capsule during the Voskhod 2 mission for a 12-minute spacewalk; and musician and astrophysicist, Brian May.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili from the University of Surrey said: "It is a huge honour to have received the very first Stephen Hawking Science Communication Medal. Bringing cutting-edge research findings to life has always drawn me to science communication. To me, doing the research is only half the job - you also need to tell people about it. That's what I try to do as both a lecturer and a broadcaster."

Professor Al-Khalili obtained his PhD in theoretical nuclear physics from Surrey in 1989, following which he became lecturer and then professor of physics. He continues to teach undergraduate physics and carry out research, having published a hundred papers in nuclear physics, quantum mechanics and quantum biology.

During his time at the University of Surrey, Professor Al-Khalili has been elected fellow of the Institute of Physics, Honorary Fellow of the British Science Association and has received the Royal Society Michael Faraday Medal and the Institute of Physics Kelvin Medal as well as numerous honorary degrees from UK universities. He received an OBE in 2007 for 'services to science'.

Alongside his academic career, Professor Al-Khalili is a well-known science communicator, author and broadcaster, best known as a presenter of the weekly BBC Radio 4 programme, The Life Scientific.

President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, Professor Max Lu, commented: "For more than 25 years Jim has been a true inspiration to our staff and students, first as an ambitious PhD student, then as a lecturer and as a professor. His outstanding ability to communicate complicated science in an understandable and entertaining manner is what makes him a distinguished professor, author and broadcaster. We are thrilled he has won such a prestigious award - my personal, and on behalf of the University, congratulations to Jim for this fantastic and well-deserved accolade."

Professor Stephen Hawking said: "In collaboration with the STARMUS festival in Tenerife, I am delighted to announce the first recipient of the Stephen Hawking Medal, for Science Communication. In this special inaugural year of the awards, I have been invited to personally select the awardees that have made outstanding contributions in the articulation and portrayal of science to the public, within the three categories of science, art, and film.

Professor Jim Al-Khalili is the very worthy recipient in the science category. This has been for his treatment of complex physics concepts through science documentaries, most recently, The Secrets of Quantum Physics."


Media enquiries:

Ashley Lovell, Media Relations Officer at the University of Surrey, Phone: 01483 686076 or Email:

Notes to Editors:

About the University of Surrey

The University of Surrey is one of the UK's leading professional, scientific and technological universities with a world-class research profile and a reputation for excellence in teaching.

Ground-breaking research at the University is bringing direct benefit to all spheres of life - helping industry to maintain its competitive edge and creating improvements in the areas of health, medicine, space science, the environment, communications, defence and social policy. Programmes in science and technology have gained widespread recognition and it also boasts flourishing programmes in dance and music, social sciences, management and languages and law.

In addition to the campus on 150 hectares just outside Guildford, Surrey, the University also owns and runs the Surrey Research Park, which provides facilities for 110 companies employing 2,750 staff.

The University of Surrey was named University of the Year by the Times and Sunday Times, both overall and for 'Student Experience', and achieved a top-five ranking in the Guardian University Guide 2017.

For more information about the University and its work, visit

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.