Barrie Jones Award Lectures

In 2015, the Open University and the Astrobiology Society of Britain announced a new award to recognise individuals who make an exceptional contribution to the community through outreach and education work relating to astrobiology. The Barrie Jones Award is presented at the Astrobiology Society of Britain’s biennial conferences, and the recipient is then asked to present the Barrie Jones Memorial Lecture, at the Open University. Recorded lectures from previous years are archived below.

The recipient of the first Barrie Jones Award was Prof Lisa Kaltenegger, director of the Carl Sagan Institute at Cornell University. Lisa was formally presented with the award, and presented the inaugural Barrie Jones Memorial Lecture, on 7th July 2016. The lecture was attended by an audience including Barrie’s widow, Anne, staff and students from the Open University, and students from high schools around Milton Keynes. In addition, it was streamed live on the internet, and was also recorded for posterity.

The Barrie Jones Award was established to remember Prof Barrie Jones (1941 – 2014), an enthusiastic and inspiring advocate for astronomical outreach and engagement. In addition to an outstanding research carrier, Barrie was a gifted and passionate communicator of science. He played a major role in establishing and developing the Open University’s astronomy courses, through which he inspired countless undergraduate students. He gave regular talks to local astronomical societies across the UK, and served as president of the Society for Popular Astronomy, giving a great deal back to the amateur astronomical community from which he came. He was also the author of several popular astronomy books, as well as two works of fiction, and was a wonderful mentor and friend to his students and colleagues alike.


Previous recipients and recorded lectures



The recipient of the 2017 award was Dr Louisa Preston, a UK Space Agency Aurora Research Fellow in Astrobiology at Birkbeck University of London. Dr Preston is a talented researcher, and a gifted and passionate communicator of science who has regularly discussed astrobiology and space science on programs such as BBC Stargazing Live, The Sky at Night, and Horizon. Dr Preston is also a TED Fellow, and recently published her first popular science book: ‘Goldilocks and the Water Bears: The Search for Life in the Universe’. Her prize lecture was entitled “Searching for Life in the Cosmos” and details the exciting and incredible search for life in the Universe.

2017 Barrie Jones Award Lecture: “Searching for Life in the Cosmos”



The inaugural recipient of the award was Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy and director of Cornell University’s Carl Sagan Institute. The award was presented in a ceremony on 7th July 2016 at the Open University campus. The prize lecture is entitled “Thousands of New Worlds” and explores the ways in which we will soon be able to uncover the telltale signatures of life on other worlds beyond our solar system.

2016 Barrie Jones Award Lecture: “Thousands of New Worlds”