ARI astronomer receives VC Award for Excellence in Research

Each year LJMU presents its prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence in Research, Scholarship & Knowledge Transfer to staff who are using research to increase our knowledge and understanding of key issues, and develop innovative solutions to challenges facing society today. This year’s recipients are worthy winners, and their exciting work reflects the vibrant research community in operation across the University.

The prestigious Vice-Chancellor’s Medal was awarded to Dr Chris Copperwheat, who leads gravitational wave and exoplanet research in the Astrophysics Research Institute.

Dr Copperwheat took up his permanent role as Liverpool Telescope (LT) Astronomer in Charge in 2015, and since then he has published 17 high-impact refereed papers on different aspects of his research, including the use of new gravitational wave science and the detailed science case for the double-sized successor facility to the University’s Liverpool Telescope, currently the world’s largest fully robotic telescope.

By harnessing the unique facilities of the Liverpool Telescope, Dr Copperwheat enabled LJMU to play a key role in the biggest astronomical discovery of 2017: the discovery of the TRAPPIST-1 system of seven exo-Earths, just 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) away. This is the first time that so many Earth-sized planets have been found orbiting around the same star, and the research, first published in Nature, made headlines around the world.