Maggie Aderin-Pocock

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Maggie Aderin-Pocock
Born (1968-03-09) 9 March 1968 (age 47)
Islington, London, England
Nationality British
Fields Space Science
Science Communication
Institutions University College London
Alma mater Imperial College London
Known for Television personality, science educator
Notable awards MBE

Margaret Ebunoluwa "Maggie" Aderin-Pocock, MBE (born 9 March 1968)[1][2] is an English space scientist. She is an Honorary Research Associate in UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy.[3] Since February 2014, she has co-presented the long-running astronomy TV programme The Sky at Night, alongside Chris Lintott.[4]

Personal life and education[edit]

Aderin-Pocock was born in London, to Nigerian parents. Her name "Ebunoluwa" stems from the Yoruba words "Ebun" meaning "gift" and Oluwa meaning "God", which is also a variant form of the word "Oluwabunmi" or "Olubunmi" meaning "gift of God" in Yoruba.[5] She attended La Sainte Union Convent School in North London. She has dyslexia and, as a child, when she told a teacher she wanted to be an astronaut, it was suggested she try nursing, "because that's scientific, too".[6] She gained four A-Levels in maths, physics, chemistry and biology.[6]

She attended Imperial College London, earning a BSc in physics in 1990 and a doctorate in mechanical engineering in 1994. Her thesis was accepted in 1995, entitled "Interferometric Studies of Very Thin Lubricant Films in Concentrated Contacts". This project involved development of an ultra-thin film measurement system (using spectroscopy and interferometry to the 2.5 nm level).[7] This doctoral research involved improving the optical performance and the mechanical design of the system, as well as development of control and image processing software. Other techniques at the time could only operate to the micron level with much poorer resolution. This development work resulted in the instrument being sold by an Imperial College spin-off company.

She discussed her biography on BBC's Desert Island Discs in March 2010,[8] and has been the subject of numerous biographical articles on women in science.[6]

She lives in Guildford, Surrey, with her husband Martin and daughter Lauren, who was born in 2010.[9]


Aderin-Pocock has worked on many projects, from private industry to government contracts to academic research. She began in the Ministry of Defence and the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency on missile warning systems. She then worked on hand-held instruments to detect landmines. Aderin-Pocock moved back to Imperial College London in 1999 with a fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council to work with the group developing[10] a high-resolution spectrograph[11] for the Gemini telescope in Chile, which probes the heart of stars by converting the starlight gathered by huge telescopes into the spectrum[12] of colours, and then analyses them to work out[13] what's happening billions of miles away.

She was the lead scientist for the optical instrumentation group for Astrium. She is working on and managing the observation instruments for the Aeolus satellite, which will measure wind speeds to help the investigation of climate change. She is also a pioneering figure in communicating science to the public, specifically school children, and also runs her own company, Science Innovation Ltd, which engages children and adults all over the world with the wonders of space science.[14]

Aderin-Pocock is committed to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers and scientists and she has spoken to about 25,000 children, many of them at inner-city schools telling them how and why she is a scientist, busting myths about careers, class and gender.[15] Through this Aderin-Pocock conducts "Tours of the Universe", a scheme she set up to engage school children and adults around the world in the wonders of space.[16] She also helps encourage scientific endeavours of young people by being a celebrity judge at the National Science + Engineering Competition. The finals of this competition are held at The Big Bang Fair in March each year to reward young people who have achieved excellence in a science, technology, engineering or maths project.

Aderin-Pocock was the scientific consultant for the 2009 mini-series Paradox, and also appeared on Doctor Who Confidential.[17] In February 2011 she presented Do We Really Need the Moon? on BBC Two. She also presented In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World[18] on BBC Two on 26 March 2012.

Since 2006, Aderin-Pocock has served as a research fellow at UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies, supported by a Science in Society fellowship 2010-2013 funded by Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). She previously held two other fellowships related to science communication, including science and society fellowships 2006–08 Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) and 2008–10 (STFC).[7] Also in 2006, she was one of six "Women of Outstanding Achievement" winners with GetSET Women.

In 2009, she was appointed an MBE for her services to science and education.[19] She also was awarded an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University [20] in 2009 for contributions to the field of science education.

In 2015, she appeared on Series 5 of children's television show Hacker Time.[21]

From its third series, she has appeared on Duck Quacks Don't Echo as one of the verifiers.


  • 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"
  • 2012 — UK Power List, listed as one of the UK top 100 most influential black people
  • 2011 — Winner of the "New Talent" award from the WFTV (Women in Film and Television)
  • 2010 — Awarded Honorary fellowship from the British Science Association
  • 2010 — Awarded third STFC Fellowship in Science in Society, held at UCL
  • 2010 — Subject of a BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs episode
  • 2009 — Winner of Red Magazine's "Red’s Hot Women" Award in the pioneering category
  • 2009 — UK Power List, Listed as one of the UK top 100 most influential black people
  • 2009 — Awarded honorary degree from Staffordshire University
  • 2009 — MBE awarded in 2009 New Year’s Honours list for services to science education
  • 2008 — Awarded second STFC Fellowship in Science in Society, held at UCL
  • 2008 — Invited to give a "Friday Night Discourse" at the Royal Institution
  • 2008 — The British Science Association Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture
  • 2008 — Winner Arthur C Clark Outreach Award for Promotion of Space
  • 2006 — UKRC (now WISE, UK) Woman of Outstanding Achievement
  • 2006 — Awarded inaugural Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Fellowship in Science in Society, held at UCL
  • 2005 — Awarded "Certificate of Excellence" by the Champions Club UK (in recognition of efforts at promoting the study of science among young girls, especially those from ethnic minority backgrounds)


  • Aderin, M. "Space Instrumentation: Physics and Astronomy in Harmony?" Paper presented at the Engineering and Physics - Synergy for Success, 5 October 2006, UK.
  • Barlow, M. J., A. S. Hales, P. J. Storey, X. W. Liu, YG Tsamis, and M. E. Aderin. "Bhros High Spectral Resolution Observations of Pn Forbidden and Recombination Line Profiles." Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union 2, no. Symposium S234 (2006): 367–68.
  • Aderin, M. E. "Bhros Installation and System Performance." Paper presented at the Ground-based Instrumentation for Astronomy, 21–25 June 2004, USA.
  • Aderin, M., I. Crawford, P. D'Arrigo, and A. Charalambous. "High Resolution Optical Spectrograph (Hros): A Summary of Progress." Paper presented at the Conference on Optical and IR Telescope Instrumentation and Detectors, 27–31 March 2000, Munich, Germany.
  • Aderin, M. E., and I. A. Burch. "Countermine: Hand Held and Vehicle Mounted Mine Detection." Paper presented at the Second International Conference on Detection of Abandoned Land Mines, 12–14 October 1998, London, UK.
  • Aderin, Margaret Ebunoluwa. "Interferometric Studies of Very Thin Lubricant Films in Concentrated Contacts." Thesis (Ph D and D I C ) - Department of Mechanical Engineering, Imperial College, London, 1995.
  • Gunsel, S., H. A. Spikes, and M. Aderin. "In-Situ Measurement of Zddp Films in Concentrated Contacts." S T L E Tribology Transactions 36, no. 2 (1993): 276-82.
  • Aderin, M. E., G. J. Johnston, H. A. Spikes, T. G. Balson, and M. G. Emery. "Film-Forming Properties of Polyalkylene Glycols." Journal of Synthetic Lubrication 10, no. 1 (1993): 23-45.
  • Cann, P.M., M. Aderin, G.J. Johnston, and H.A. Spikes. "An Investigation into the Orientation Oflubricant Molecules in Ehd Contacts." In Wear Particles: From the Cradle to the Grave, edited by D. Dowson, G. Dalmaz, T. H. C. Childs, C. M. Taylor and M. Godet. 209–18: Elsevier Science Publishers, 1992.
  • Aderin, M., G. J. Johnston, H. A. Spikes, and G. Caporiccio. "The Elastohydrodynamic Properties of Some Advanced Hydrocarbon-Based Lubricants." Lubrication Engineering 48, no. 8 (August 1992): 633-38.


  1. ^ "Weekend Birthdays", The Guardian, 8 March 2014, p. 45 
  2. ^ GRO Register of Births: Margaret Efumoluwa Aderin, mmn = Wey, Mar 1968 5c 905 ISLINGTON
  3. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock recognised at Suffrage Science event", UCL, 27 February 2013.
  4. ^ Emine Saner. "The Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock: 'In space, race doesn't matter'", The Guardian, 19 January 2014.
  5. ^ "OLUBUNMI". Behind the Name. Retrieved 27 July 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c Aderin-Pocock, Maggie (13 March 2009). "Let's inspire the next generation of scientists". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Maggie Aderin-Pocock Maggie Aderin, Research Fellow UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies
  8. ^ BBC Desert Island Discs, Maggie Aderin-Pocock.
  9. ^ Baker, Tamzin (19 October 2012). "At home: Maggie Aderin-Pocock". Financial Times. Retrieved 15 January 2014. 
  10. ^ bHROS References High Resolution Optical Spectrograph for Gemini South
  11. ^ bHROS High Resolution Optical Spectrograph for Gemini South
  12. ^ bHROS Components High Resolution Optical Spectrograph for Gemini South
  13. ^ Instruments | Gemini Observatory : bHROS, a high-resolution optical spectrograph, has been retired
  14. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock", Battle of Ideas.
  15. ^ Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE Staffordshire University
  16. ^ Royal Institution profile.
  17. ^ Maggie Aderin-Pocock IMDB
  18. ^ In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World, BBC Two.
  19. ^ New Year's Honours List, 7 January 2009.
  20. ^ Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE.
  21. ^

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