Sheila Rowan (physicist)

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Sheila Rowan

Sheila Rowan Royal Society.jpg
Sheila Rowan at the Royal Society admissions day in London, July 2018
Alma materUniversity of Glasgow (BSc, PhD)
AwardsPhilip Leverhulme Prize (2005)
Hoyle Medal and Prize (2016)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Glasgow
Stanford University
ThesisAspects of lasers for the illumination of interferometric gravitational wave detectors (1995)
Doctoral advisorJames Hough[1]

Sheila Rowan MBE FRS FRSE FInstP[2] is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Glasgow in Scotland, and director of its Institute for Gravitational Research since 2009.[3][4][5]


Rowan was educated at the University of Glasgow where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in 1991 followed by a PhD in 1995[1] for research on gravitational waves supervised by James Hough.[5]


After her PhD, Rowan's work was split between the University of Glasgow and the Edward Ginzton Laboratory at Stanford University.[5] Since 2003, she has been based solely in Glasgow, and in 2006 was appointed Professor of Experimental Physics.

In June 2016, Rowan was seconded (part-time) to chief scientific advisor to the Scottish Government,[2] a position vacant since December 2014, when Muffy Calder stood down.[6][7]

Awards and honours[edit]

Rowan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE) in 2008[8] and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2018.[9][2]

Rowan was awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize for Astronomy and Astrophysics in 2005, elected a Fellow of the Institute of Physics (FInstP) in 2006 and awarded Fellowship of the American Physical Society in 2012.[2] She the Hoyle Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics in 2016 in recognition of her pioneering research on aspects of the technology of gravitational wave observatories.

Rowan was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2011 Birthday Honours.[5]

In 2016, Rowan and her team contributed to the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, for their work on the first detection of gravitational waves, which was announced in February 2016.[7]

In July 2019, Rowan was elected to the role of president-elect by the Institute of Physics. She will take up the post in October 2019 and will become president on 1 October 2021.[10]


  1. ^ a b Rowan, Sheila (1995). Aspects of lasers for the illumination of interferometric gravitational wave detectors. (PhD thesis). University of Glasgow. OCLC 181873685. EThOS
  2. ^ a b c d "Sheila Rowan".
  3. ^ "University of Glasgow - Schools - School of Physics & Astronomy - Our staff - Prof Sheila Rowan". Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  4. ^ "University of Glasgow :: Schools :: School of Physics and Astronomy :: Research :: Research Groups - Institute for Gravitational Research - Our Staff and Students - Personal details". Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d "University of Glasgow - University news - Archive of news - 2016 - June - Professor Sheila Rowan appointed Chief Scientific Adviser". Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  6. ^ Anon (8 June 2016). "New chief scientific adviser appointed". BBC News. Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Professor Sheila Rowan MBE -". Retrieved 8 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Professor Sheila Rowan MBE FRSE - The Royal Society of Edinburgh". The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2017-12-18.
  9. ^ "Distinguished scientists elected as Fellows and Foreign Members of the Royal Society". The Royal Society. 9 May 2018. Retrieved 10 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Institute of Physics announces new president-elect and Council members". Institute of Physics announces new president-elect and Council members | Institute of Physics. Retrieved 2019-07-31.

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