Maggie Aderin-Pocock

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Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE (18117819695).jpg
Aderin-Pocock in the Dark Matter Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show, 2015
Margaret Ebunoluwa Aderin

(1968-03-09) 9 March 1968 (age 52)[1]
Islington, London, England
EducationLa Sainte Union Catholic School
Alma materImperial College London (BSc, PhD)
Known forThe Sky at Night
Martin Pocock
m. 2002)
AwardsHonorary degree, Staffordshire University 2009
Honorary Fellow, British Science Association 2010
Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Bath 2014
Scientific career
FieldsSpace science
Science communication
InstitutionsUniversity College London
ThesisInterferometric Studies of Very Thin Lubricant Films in Concentrated Contacts (1995)
Doctoral advisorHugh Spikes

Margaret Ebunoluwa Aderin-Pocock MBE (née Aderin; born 9 March 1968)[2][3] is a British Space Scientist and Science Educator. She is an Honorary Research Associate of University College London's Department of Physics and Astronomy.[4] Since February 2014, she has co-presented the long-running astronomy television programme The Sky at Night with Chris Lintott.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Aderin-Pocock was born in London on 9 March 1968 to Nigerian parents, Caroline Philips and Justus Adebayo Aderin, and was raised in Camden, London.[1][6] 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.[7] 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".[8] She gained four A-Levels in maths, physics, chemistry, and biology.[8]

She studied at Imperial College London, graduated with a B.Sc in physics in 1990, and completed her Ph.D in mechanical engineering under the supervision of Hugh Spikes in 1994.[9] Her research investigated the development of an ultra-thin film measurement system using spectroscopy and interferometry to the 2.5 nm level.[10] This involved improving the optical performance and the mechanical design of the system, as well as the 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 University spin-off company, (PCS Instruments).[11]

Career and research[edit]

Aderin-Pocock has worked on many projects in private industry, academia, and in government. From 1996 to 1999 she worked at the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, a branch of the UK Ministry of Defence. Initially, she worked as a systems scientist on aircraft missile warning systems, and from 1997 to 1999 she was a project manager developing hand-held instruments to detect landmines.[1][12] In 1999, Aderin-Pocock returned to Imperial College on a fellowship from the Science and Technology Facilities Council to work with the group developing [13] a high-resolution spectrograph[14] for the Gemini telescope in Chile. The telescope examines and analyses starlight to improve understanding of distant stars.[15][16]

She was the lead scientist at Astrium, where she managed observation instruments on a satellite, measuring wind speeds to help the investigation of climate change.[17] 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.[18]

Aderin-Pocock is committed to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers, and scientists and she has spoken to approximately 25,000 children, many of them at inner-city schools, telling them how and why she became a scientist, busting myths about careers, class, and gender.[19] Through this Aderin-Pocock conducts "Tours of the Universe," which she set up to engage children and adults around the world in the wonders of space.[20] 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.[21] In February 2011 she presented Do We Really Need the Moon? on BBC Two.[22] She also presented In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World on BBC Two on 26 March 2012.[23]

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).[10] Also in 2006, she was one of six "Women of Outstanding Achievement" winners with GetSET Women.

Aderin-Pocock was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 2009 New Year Honours for services to science education.[24] She also was awarded an honorary doctorate from Staffordshire University [25] in 2009 for contributions to the field of science education.

In 2014, the pseudonymously-written Ephraim Hardcastle diary column in the Daily Mail claimed that Aderin-Pocock (along with Hiranya Peiris) had been selected to discuss results from the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP-2) experiment on BBC Newsnight because of her gender and ethnicity. The comments were condemned by mainstream media, the Royal Astronomical Society and Aderin-Pocock and Pereis's university, University College London,[26][27][28] and the Daily Mail and its column backed down within days acknowledging that the women were chosen because they are highly qualified in their fields.[26][27]


  • Aderin-Pocock, Maggie. "The Knowledge: Stargazing" Publisher: Quadrille Publishing Ltd, 10 Sept 2015, ISBN 1849496218, ISBN 978-1849496216
  • Aderin, M. "Space Instrumentation: Physics and Astronomy in Harmony?" Paper presented at the Engineering and Physics - Synergy for Success, 5 October 2006, UK.
  • Aderin, Maggie (2007). "A Different Sort of School Run". Astronomy & Geophysics. 48 (5): 10–11. Bibcode:2007A&G....48e..10.. doi:10.1111/j.1468-4004.2007.48510.x.
  • Barlow, M. J., A. S. Hales, P. J. Storey, X. W. Liu, Y. G. 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. doi: 10.1049/cp:19980719
  • Aderin, Margaret Ebunoluwa. "Interferometric Studies of Very Thin Lubricant Films in Concentrated Contacts."[9]
  • Gunsel, S.; H. A. Spikes; M. Aderin (1993). "In-Situ Measurement of Zddp Films in Concentrated Contacts". S T L E Tribology Transactions. 36 (2): 276–82. doi:10.1080/10402009308983159.
  • Aderin, M. E.; G. J. Johnston; H. A. Spikes; T. G. Balson; M. G. Emery (1993). "Film-Forming Properties of Polyalkylene Glycols". Journal of Synthetic Lubrication. 10 (1): 23–45. doi:10.1002/jsl.3000100103.
  • 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; G. Caporiccio (1992). "The Elastohydrodynamic Properties of Some Advanced Hydrocarbon-Based Lubricants". Lubrication Engineering. 48 (8): 633–38.

Awards and honours[edit]

  • 2018 — Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Leicester[29]
  • 2017 — Honorary Doctor of Science, Loughborough University[30]
  • 2016 — Powerlist Ranked sixth most influential Black Briton [31][32]
  • 2014 — Honorary Doctor of Science, University of Bath[33]
  • 2013 — UK Power List, listed as one of the UK top 10 most influential black people[34]
  • 2013 — Yale University Centre for Dyslexia "Out of the box thinking award[35]"
  • 2012 — UK Powerlist, listed as one of the UK top 100 most influential black people[36]
  • 2011 — Winner of the "New Talent" award from the WFTV (Women in Film and Television)[37]
  • 2010 — Awarded Honorary fellowship from the British Science Association[38]
  • 2010 — Awarded third STFC Fellowship in Science in Society, held at UCL[38]
  • 2010 — Subject of a BBC Radio 4 Desert Island Discs episode[38]
  • 2009 — Winner of Red magazine's "Red’s Hot Women" Award in the pioneering category[38]
  • 2009 — UK Power List, Listed as one of the UK top 100 most influential black people[38]
  • 2009 — Honorary degree from Staffordshire University[38]
  • 2009 — MBE awarded in 2009 New Year's Honours list for services to science education[38]
  • 2008 — Awarded second STFC Fellowship in Science in Society, held at UCL[38]
  • 2008 — Invited to give a "Friday Night Discourse" at the Royal Institution[38]
  • 2008 — The British Science Association Isambard Kingdom Brunel Award Lecture[38]
  • 2008 — Winner Arthur C Clark Outreach Award for Promotion of Space[38]
  • 2006 — UKRC (now WISE, UK) Woman of Outstanding Achievement[38]
  • 2006 — Awarded inaugural Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Fellowship in Science in Society, held at UCL[38]
  • 2005 — Awarded "Certificate of Excellence" by the Champions Club UK[39]

Personal life[edit]

Aderin-Pocock discussed her life on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in March 2010,[40] and has been the subject of numerous biographical articles on women in science.[8]

She and Dr. Martin Pocock were married in 2002 and have one daughter, Lauren, born in 2010. They live in Guildford, Surrey.[1][41]


  1. ^ a b c d Anon (2017). "Aderin-Pocock, Dr Margaret Ebunoluwa". Who's Who. (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U256280. (subscription or UK public library membership required) (subscription required)
  2. ^ "Weekend Birthdays". The Guardian. 8 March 2014. p. 45.
  3. ^ GRO Register of Births: Margaret Efumoluwa Aderin, mmn = Wey, Mar 1968 5c 905 ISLINGTON
  4. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock recognised at Suffrage Science event" Archived 24 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, UCL, 27 February 2013.
  5. ^ Emine Saner (19 January 2014). ""The Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock: 'In space, race doesn't matter'"". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Wintle, Interview: Angela. "BBC Sky at Night presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock on space, science and Guildford life". Retrieved 11 February 2018.
  7. ^ "OLUBUNMI". Behind the Name. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Aderin-Pocock, Maggie (13 March 2009). "Let's inspire the next generation of scientists". The Telegraph. Retrieved 20 September 2013.
  9. ^ a b Aderin, Margaret Ebunoluwa (1995). Interferometric Studies of Very Thin Lubricant Films in Concentrated Contacts. (PhD thesis). University of London. OCLC 940348526. Copac 29536860.
  10. ^ a b Maggie Aderin-Pocock Archived 24 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine Maggie Aderin, Research Fellow UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies
  11. ^ "Are we alone? The search for life on Mars" (PDF). Retrieved 27 May 2020.
  12. ^ c0c6844f-85f4-450d-935c-a27a00bdf347. "Maggie Aderin-Pocock". Vitae: realising the potential of researchers. Careers Research and Advisory Centre Limited. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  13. ^ bHROS References High Resolution Optical Spectrograph for Gemini South
  14. ^ bHROS High Resolution Optical Spectrograph for Gemini South
  15. ^ bHROS Components High Resolution Optical Spectrograph for Gemini South
  16. ^ Instruments | Gemini Observatory : bHROS, a high-resolution optical spectrograph, has been retired
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock" Archived 15 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Battle of Ideas.
  19. ^ Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE Archived 7 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine Staffordshire University
  20. ^ Royal Institution profile. Archived 25 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Maggie Aderin-Pocock IMDB
  22. ^ "Do We Really Need the Moon? - BBC Two". Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  23. ^ "The Trick is to Keep Moving ..., In Orbit: How Satellites Rule Our World - BBC Two". Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  24. ^ "No. 58929". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2008. p. 21.
  25. ^ University, Staffordshire. "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 February 2017.
  26. ^ a b "Scientist (PhD in astrophysics) shocked by reference to her ethnicity". The Independent. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 12 December 2017. A Mail spokesman said the paper fully accepted that the women were highly qualified in their field and that that was the reason they were chosen for interview. Yesterday’s Ephraim Hardcastle column stated: “I accept without questions that both ladies are highly qualified.”
  27. ^ a b Meikle, James (21 March 2014). "Daily Mail accused of insulting top female scientists". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 12 December 2017. A Mail spokesman made it clear that the paper fully accepts that the women were highly qualified in their field and that was the reason they were chosen for interview. The Mail is in contact with Professor Price.
  28. ^ Smith, Keith. "RAS statement on Hiranya Peiris and Maggie Aderin-Pocock". Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE". University of Leicester. 19 July 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2020.
  30. ^ "Renowned space scientist receives Honorary Doctorate from Loughborough University". Loughborough University. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  31. ^ "The 10 most influential black people in Britain". indy100. 24 November 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
  32. ^ "Do we really need black-only 'power lists' in the UK?". Retrieved 30 May 2020.
  33. ^ Walker (Dr), Alison (2014). "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock: oration". University of Bath. University of Bath. Retrieved 9 January 2017.
  34. ^ Cross, Gilly (8 February 2018). "Inspiring Woman: Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, MBE". Runneth London. Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  35. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock: oration". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  36. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock: oration". Retrieved 23 May 2020.
  37. ^ "Modern perspectives: Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock | Royal Society". Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  38. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock". Take 3 Management Ltd. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  39. ^ "Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock: oration". University of Bath website. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  40. ^ "Maggie Aderin-Pocock". Desert Island Discs. BBC Radio 4. March 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2017.
  41. ^ Baker, Tamzin (19 October 2012). "At home: Maggie Aderin-Pocock". Financial Times. Retrieved 15 January 2014.