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Ta-You Wu Lecture

The University of Michigan's Department of Physics hosts the annual Ta-You Wu Lecture, which is one of the most prestigious lecture events in our Department. The Lectureship was endowed in 1991 through generous gifts from the University of Michigan Alumni Association in Taiwan. It is named in honor of Michigan Physics alumnus and honorary Doctor of Science, Ta-You Wu, one of the central figures of the 20th century in the Chinese and Taiwanese physics communities.

Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell

2024 Ta-You Wu Lecture
in Physics

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell (University of Dundee)

The Discovery of Pulsars

Talk Abstract: A grad student notices something that she cannot explain…it’s not a fault with the equipment…then there’s a second…and yet more…A story from radio astronomy that marks the beginning of pulsar research.

Professor Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell was the discoverer of the first radio pulsars, one of the most important astronomical discoveries of the 20th Century. She has received numerous awards and honors and is a devoted advocate for women in science.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024
4:00-5:00 PM

Location: Rackham Amphitheatre (4th Floor)
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Campus
Seating Began at 3:30 PM!

This event was live-streamed
on YouTube

Prior to the lecture, there was a reception in the Rackham Assembly Hall, located across the hall from the Amphitheatre on the fourth floor.
The reception began at 3:30 p.m.

Jocelyn Bell Burnell inadvertently discovered pulsars as a graduate student in radio astronomy at Cambridge, opening up a new branch of astrophysics - work recognized by the award of a Nobel Prize to her supervisor.

She has subsequently worked in many roles in many branches of astronomy, working part-time while raising a family. She is now a Visiting Academic in Oxford. She has been President of the UK’s Royal Astronomical Society; in 2008, became the first female President of the Institute of Physics for the UK and Ireland, and in 2014, the first female President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was one of the small group of women scientists who set up the Athena SWAN scheme.

She has received many honours, including a $3M Breakthrough Prize in 2018.

The public appreciation and understanding of science have always been important to her, and she is much in demand as a speaker and broadcaster. In her spare time, she gardens, listens to choral music, and is active in the Quakers. She has co-edited an anthology of poetry with an astronomical theme – ‘Dark Matter; Poems of Space.’


Location: Rackham Amphitheatre
University of Michigan Ann Arbor Campus
915 E. Washington Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

The Rackham Amphitheatre is located on the fourth floor of the Rackham Building. Doors to the fourth floor Rackham Amphitheatre will open at 3:30 pm for seating. Please come early as there will be no admittance after the lecture has started!

City Parking: Maynard Street Parking Structure
324 Maynard St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Questions? Contact Carol Rabuck,


Previous Lectures in This Series

View an assortment of past Ta-You Wu lectures on YouTube.

  • 2023 (Held in January, 2024) Jacelyn Bell Burnell: The Discovery of Pulsars
  • 2022 Eiichiro KomatsuFinding Cosmic Inflation
  • 2021 Nobel laureate Klaus von Klitzing: A Nocturnal Discovery that Triggered a Revolution in International Metrology
  • 2020 No lecture this year due to the Covid pandemic
  • 2019 Nobel laureate Donna Strickland: Generating High-Intensity, Ultrashort Optical Pulses
  • 2018 Nobel laureate F. Duncan HaldaneTopological Quantum Matter, Entanglement, and a "Second Quantum Revolution"
  • 2017 Nobel laureate Kip S. Thorne: Exploring the Universe with Gravitational Waves: From the Big Bang to Black Holes 
  • 2016 David Spergel: Our Simple but Strange Universe
  • 2015 Eric BetzigImaging Life at High Spatiotemporal Resolution
  • 2014 Wendy Freedman: The Universe: Continuing Surprises
  • 2014 Dennis Overbye: Confessions of a Dinosaur in the Age of New Media
  • 2013 Nobel laureate David WinelandSuperposition, Entanglement, and Raising Schrödinger's Cat
  • 2012 No lecture this year
  • 2011 Gérard Mourou, Former Director of the Laboratoire d’ Optique Appliquée at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Technique Avancée & Professor at the Ecole Polytechnique (France): Laser-Based High Energy Physics
  • 2010 Nobel laureate Samuel C. C. Ting: An Experiment to Explore the Mysteries of Space: The Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer on the International Space Station
  • 2009 Helen Quinn: Wandering Planets, Falling Apples, Curving Spaces, Whirling Stars: How Unraveling the Mysteries of Gravity Has Taught Us About the Universe.
  • 2008 Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek: The Universe is a Strange Place
  • 2007 100th Birthday Celebration of the late Ta-You Wu: Distinguished Lecturer, Frank H. ShuThe Formation of Stars and Planetary Systems
  • 2006 Nobel laureate Eric A. CornellIs Warm Glass More Sticky Than Cold Glass? Temperature and Casimir Force
  • 2005 Nobel laureate Anthony J. LeggettDoes the Everyday World Really Obey Quantum Mechanics?
  • 2004 Nobel laureate David J. Gross: Asymptotic Freedom and the Emergence of QCD (Or How I Won the Nobel Prize)
  • 2003 Sir Martin Rees: Where is Cosmology Going?
  • 2002 David Wilkinson (1935-2002): The Cosmic Microwave Backround Radiation
  • 2001 Freeman Dyson: Is Life Analog or Digital?
  • 2000 Nobel laureate Horst L. Stormer: Fractional Electronic Charges and other Tales from Flatland
  • 1999 Nobel laureate Steven Chu: Seeing and Holding onto Atoms and Biological Molecules
  • 1998 Benoit B. Mandelbrot (1924-2010): Fractals and Scale-Invariant Roughness in
    the Sciences
  • 1997 Paul C. W. Chu: The Path of Zero Resistance
  • 1996 Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes (1932-2007): Principles of Adhesion
  • 1995 Nobel laureate T. D. Lee: Symmetry and Asymmetry
  • 1994 Nobel laureate Joseph Taylor: Binary Pulsars and Relativistic Gravity
  • 1993 Abraham Pais (1918-2000): George Uhlenbeck Remembered
  • 1992 Nobel laureate C. N. Yang: Considerations on Carbon 60