Dr Jena Meinecke presented with Early Career Researchers MPLS Impact Award

Jena Meinecke in the labDr Jena Meinecke, Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church, has been presented with an Early Career Researchers MPLS Impact Award by the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences division at the University of Oxford.

The annual MPLS Impact Awards aim to foster and raise awareness of impact by rewarding it at a local level. Awards are presented at the MPLS Winter Reception, with winners receiving an award of £1000. The award received by Dr Meinecke is intended to recognise Early Career Researchers’ independent engagement with external organisations or end-users, laying the foundations for future impactful research. Early Career Researchers (ERCs) are defined as those within seven years of their DPhil award, and nominations for the awards must demonstrate engagement beyond what might be expected for those at this stage in their academic careers. Dr Meinecke was awarded the prize for her contribution to the promotion of women in Physics.

Dr Meinecke gained her BSc in Physics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 2011, after which she gained a DPhil in Atomic and Laser Physics from the University of Oxford in 2016. Her research interests centre on laboratory astrophysics and plasma physics. She is currently a laboratory astrophysicist studying the origins of magnetic fields. Using high-energy lasers such as the National Ignition Facility (NIF) laser, she recreates astrophysical objects in the laboratory such as supernovas – centimetres rather than parsecs in diameter. This allows her to study phenomena which develop over hundreds, thousands, even millions of years within a few microseconds. In particular, Dr Meinecke focuses on the generation and amplification of magnetic fields by both the Biermann battery mechanism and developed turbulence, respectively.

She was chosen as the winner of this award after being nominated by Professor Gianluca Gregori. “Dr Jena Meinecke is currently leading high-energy laser experiments on the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the largest laser in the world, to evince amplification of magnetic fields by turbulent dynamo, often considered the “holy grail” of astrophysical plasma physics. Her research accomplishments along with the success of her recently completed NIF campaign have undoubtedly pushed the boundaries of plasma physics.”

Dr Meinecke’s research with lasers and magnetic field amplification has had extensive coverage, including publications in Nature Physics and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, with her results being named as a Top Ten breakthrough of 2014 by the Institute of Physics’ magazine Physics World and resulting in multiple invited talks including the conference of the European Physical Society (EPS). Her work also featured on the cover of the BBC’s Sky at Night magazine and on television programmes including How the Universe Works, shown on the Discovery Channel. Dr Meinecke was also previously awarded the Jocelyn Bell Burnell Medal and Prize for her commitment to research and her work on promoting women in physics.

During her time in Oxford, she has been involved in a number of schemes working with Oxford's female physicists. She is the founder and former President of the Oxford Women in Physics Society (2013-2015), and the founder of the Oxford Women in Physics mentoring Programme (2014). She was involved in the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) (2014), and is also the co-founder of the ScienceGrrl Oxford Chapter (2014).