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Hughes Medal

For an original discovery in the physical sciences, particularly as applied to the generation, storage and use of energy.

David E. Hughes FRS

Professor George Efstathiou FRSProfessor George Efstathiou FRS

Professor George Efstathiou FRS was awarded the 2015 Hughes Medal for many outstanding contributions to our understanding of the early Universe, in particular his pioneering computer simulations, observations of galaxy clustering and studies of the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background. 

I am delighted to receive the 2015 Hughes Medal of the Royal Society. So often in science it helps to be at the right place at the right time. I have been fascinated by astronomy since I was a young boy. But, towards the end of my undergraduate degree at Oxford, I was unsure about whether to do cosmology or particle physics. Dick Daltiz advised me to do cosmology, because he felt that the field was wide-open. He was absolutely right. Since I started research in cosmology, we have discovered that most of the universe is made up of dark energy and weakly interacting dark matter. With the Planck satellite and other experiments, we have measured the temperature and polarization fluctuations of the microwave background radiation to high precision. These observations suggest that the Universe went through a superluminal phase of expansion at early times and that the structure in the Universe originated from quantum fluctuations that were vastly inflated in scale. It has been a privilege to have been able to contribute to these developments. And I am grateful to Dick Dalitz (who was awarded the 1975 Hughes Medal) for his sound advice.

Professor George Efstathiou FRS

Professor Henning Sirringhaus FRS was awarded the 2013 Hughes Medal for his pioneering development of inkjet printing processes for organic semiconductor devices, and dramatic improvement of their functioning and efficiency.

See full list of all past winners of the Hughes Medal.

The award

The award was named after the scientist David E. Hughes FRS (PDF) and was first awarded in 1902. Hughes was a Welsh-American scientist and musician who invented the first working radio communication system and the first microphone.

Previously the award was made for original discoveries particularly related to electricity and magnetism or their applications.

Past winners of this medal include Alexander Graham Bell and Stephen Hawking FRS.

The Hughes Medal is awarded biennially (in odd years) “for an original discovery in the physical sciences, particularly as applied to the generation, storage and use of energy”. The medal is of silver gilt and is accompanied by a gift of £2,000.


The call for nominations is now closed. The next call for nominations will open in November 2016.

The recipient is chosen by the Council of the Royal Society on the recommendation of the Physical Sciences Awards CommitteeThe committee will consider the nomination a maximum of 3 times, before the nomination is retired. Re-nomination is possible after 1 round has passed.

The award is open to citizens of a Commonwealth country or of the Irish Republic or those who have been ordinarily resident and working in a Commonwealth country or in the Irish Republic for a minimum of 3 years immediately prior to being proposed.