Johnian recipients of the Copley Medal of the Royal Society

For outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science

The Copley Medal is the Royal Society’s oldest and most eminent award, given annually for “outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science”, on an alternating basis between the physical sciences (odd years) and the biological sciences (even years). First awarded in 1731, and for a hundred years on the premise of the most important discovery made by way of experiment, this was changed in 1831 to recognise the author of the research deemed most deserving.

Listed below, in ascending order, with the date of award in parentheses, are the 16 Johnians who have been accorded this honour since its inception.

John Frederick William Herschel (1821). For his Papers printed in the Philosophical Transactions

John Frederick William Herschel (1847). For his work entitled Results of Astronomical Observations made during the years 1834, 1835, 1836, 1837 and 1838, at the Cape of Good Hope; being a completion of a telescopic survey of the whole surface of the visible heavens, commenced in 1825

John Couch Adams (1848). For his investigations relative to the disturbances of Uranus, and for his application of the inverse problem of perturbations thereto

James Joseph Sylvester (1880). For his long continued investigations & discoveries in mathematics

George Howard Darwin (1911). On the ground of his researches on tidal theory, the figures of the planets, and allied subjects

Joseph Larmor (1921). For his researches in mathematical physics

Charles Algernon Parsons (1928). For his contributions to engineering science

Arthur Schuster (1931). For his distinguished researches in optics and terrestrial magnetism

Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac (1952). In recognition of his remarkable contributions to relativistic dynamics of a particle in quantum mechanics

Harold Jeffreys (1960). In recognition of his distinguished work in many branches of geophysics, and also in the theory of probability and astronomy

Nevill Francis Mott (1972). In recognition of his original contributions over a long period to atomic and solid state physics

William Valance Douglas Hodge (1974). In recognition of his pioneering work in algebraic geometry, notably in his theory of harmonic integrals

Frederick Sanger (1977). In recognition of his distinguished work on the chemical structure of proteins and his studies on the sequences of nucleic acids

Rudolf Ernst Peierls (1986). In recognition of his fundamental contributions to a very wide range of theoretical physics, and signal advances in proposing the probable existence of nuclear chain reactions in fissile materials.

Abdus Salam (1990). In recognition of his work on the symmetries of the laws of nature, and especially the unification of the electromagnetic and weak forces

Roger Penrose (2008). For his beautiful and original insights into many areas of mathematics and mathematical physics. Sir Roger has made outstanding contributions to general relativity theory and cosmology, most notably for his work on black holes and the Big Bang

David Roxbee Cox (2010). For his seminal contributions to the theory and applications of statistics


Copley Medal - Royal Society