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University of Warwick receives £3.5m donation to astronomy & astrophysics

Melanie May | 7 October 2021 | News

A planet in a dark sky

The University of Warwick has received a £3.5 million philanthropic gift to astronomy and astrophysics, which will be used to recruit and support the next generation of astronomers.

Announced during World Space Week (4-10 October), the gift is a private philanthropic donation from a Warwick alumnus and is one of the largest gifts towards the study of astronomy and astrophysics in the UK. It will support a pipeline of talent from postgraduate study up to early career research fellows, allowing the University’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Group to further boost its research profile.

The gift recognises the opportunity to support research that has the potential to achieve the level of science’s highest honours, such as the Nobel Prize. The Group’s research encompasses the birth and death of solar systems, the search for distant planets and the life they may harbour, and some of the most extreme and destructive astronomical phenomena in the universe.


Gift acceptance and due diligence course by Kerry Rock. Background image (filtered yellow) of one hand on the left with thumb down, and on the right a hand with a thumb up.

The gift will establish a programme to support postgraduate students and early career researchers to take this research deeper into unexplored areas of astronomy. The programme will be interdisciplinary and driven by the strengths of the Group and the ambitions of the recipients, allowing them to build on existing research strengths and to pioneer research into new areas.

£2 million will support up to 15 exceptional PhD students for the duration of their studies, while a further £1.5 million will allow the University to recruit the strongest upcoming talent in up to 13 postdoctoral roles, allowing the Group to invest significantly in its future research performance.

Professor Danny Steeghs, Head of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Group at University of Warwick, said:

“We are looking for exceptional students and researchers who share our passions and ambitions. Astrophysics is a very exciting field and this scheme will significantly increase our impact while training a new generation of researchers.”

Professor Christine Ennew, University of Warwick Provost, said:

“Looking to the stars has always raised important questions about the universe and our place within it, and for nearly twenty years our Astronomy and Astrophysics Group has been seeking answers. This fantastic gift will build on their world-leading reputation, helping them to drive forward our understanding of some truly fundamental questions. PhD scholarships are essential for attracting the highest quality students, while post-doctoral fellowships will ensure that we can retain the best talent within the research community.”