Dr Becky
Winner of the Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture

Dr Rebecca (Becky) Smethurst is a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, University of Oxford. Her research accomplishments include applying state-of-the-art statistical tools to dissect the evolutionary paths of galaxies in the Universe, using large datasets such as Galaxy Zoo and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. She has demonstrated that so-called `green valley’ galaxies, rather than being a homogeneous family, hide a variety of evolutionary paths and reveal how and when galaxies stop forming stars. She is an effective and enthusiastic science communicator, receiving recognition such as the Henrick de Waard Foundation lecturer in Groningen. Her weekly videos about physics and astronomy on her YouTube channel ‘Dr Becky’ have collected more than a hundred thousand subscribers. In those videos she conveys the nuts and bolts of cutting-edge research in a unique, modern, style, to great effect. Her appetite for communicating science is boundless.

Her Caroline Herschel Prize Lecture will incorporate some of her more recent research and is entitled “Supermassive Black Holes: The Ultimate Galaxy Killers?”

The Royal Astronomical Association press release was issued on Monday 8th June 2020.

Previous recipients:


Dr Anna Lisa Varri, UKRI Future Leaders Fellow at the School of Physics and Astronomy and School of Mathematics, University of Edinburgh.

Dr Anna Lisa Varri presented “Small stellar systems, big astrophysical questions” at the University of Bath on 26th November 2019.


Dr Sarah Rugheimer, who was then Simons Research Fellow at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of St Andrews.

Dr Sarah Rugheimer presented “Hues of Habitability: Characterising Pale Blue Dots around Other Stars” at the University of Bath on 21st November 2018.