Dr. Margaret Aderin-Pocock: Making the Exceptional a Reality

by Duchess Magazine

Dr. Margaret Ebunoluwa Aderin-Pocock MBE (formerly Aderin) was born in London on March 9, 1968 to Nigerian parents, Caroline Philips and Justus Adebayo Aderin. She was raised in London’s Camden neighbourhood.

Margaret is a British space scientist and science teacher. She has been the chancellor of the University of Leicester since February 2023 and is an honorary research associate of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at University College London. She and Chris Lintott have co-hosted the venerable astronomy television show The Sky at Night since February 2014.

She studied in North London at La Sainte Union Convent School. She struggles with reading and writing. She was recommended to pursue nursing as a career when she was younger after telling a teacher that she wanted to be an astronaut. She completed A-Level coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, and maths.

She attended Imperial College London, where in 1990 she earned a BSc in physics before working under Hugh Spikes’ guidance to finish her PhD in mechanical engineering in 1994.

Aderin-Pocock has contributed to numerous initiatives in government, academia, and business. She was employed with the UK Ministry of Defence’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency from 1996 until 1999. She worked first as a systems scientist on aviation missile warning systems, and between 1997 and 1999, she managed a project that created portable devices for landmine detection. Under a fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council, Aderin-Pocock returned to Imperial College in 1999 to collaborate with the team creating a high-resolution spectrograph for the Gemini telescope in Chile.

Margaret is dedicated to fostering the next wave of scientists, engineers, and astronauts. She has spoken to nearly 25,000 kids, many of whom attend inner-city schools, about how and why she became a scientist and how to challenge stereotypes about professions, class, and gender.

Martin Pocock and Dr. Margaret got married in 2002. Living in Guildford, Surrey, they have a daughter named Lauren who was born in 2010.

Awards and Recognitions

2005 – Awarded “Certificate of Excellence” by the Champions Club UK

As part of the 2009 New Year’s Honours, Aderin-Pocock was named a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to science education. In 2009, Staffordshire University also granted her an honorary doctorate in recognition of her work in scientific teaching.

2011 – Winner of the “New Talent” award from the WFTV (Women in Film and Television)

2012 – UK Powerlist, listed as one of the UK top 100 most influential black people

2013 – UK Power List, listed as one of the UK top 10 most influential black people

2013 – Yale University Centre for Dyslexia “Out of the box thinking award”

2014 – Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Bath

2016 – Powerlist Ranked sixth most influential Black Briton

2017 – Honorary Doctor of Science, Loughborough University

2018 – Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Leicester

2020 –Institute of Physics William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize for her public engagement in physics

She received the William Thomson, Lord Kelvin Medal and Prize from the Institute of Physics in 2020 in recognition of her physics-related public participation. She was the first black woman to get a gold prize from the Physics News Award, and from 2021 to 2022, she presided over the British Science Association.

In 2023, Mattel made a Barbie doll of Margaret in celebration of the year’s International Women’s Day.

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