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European prize for St Andrews mathematician

Eric Priest appearing to hold the Sun in his hand

Professor Eric Priest of the University of St Andrews has been awarded the Senior Prize of the European Solar Physics Division of the European Physical Society.

The Prize, the most prestigious a solar physicist in Europe can receive, is given every three years.

Professor Priest has been honoured for “long-standing leadership via mentoring, supervising and field-defining textbooks and for fundamental contributions in key topics of solar magnetohydrodynamics, particularly magnetic reconnection in the solar atmosphere and solar coronal heating”.

“It is a real surprise to me and is humbling that my life’s work is being acknowledged by my European  colleagues in this way,” he said.

Professor Priest was due to receive the award at the triennial general assembly of European solar physicists in Italy in September, but, due to the coronavirus outbreak, the assembly has been postponed to September 2021.

Eric Priest came to St Andrews as a young applied mathematics lecturer in 1968 and retired ten years ago, but is still active in research, regularly giving lectures and producing new ideas for publication.

He applies his mathematics to the Sun, building models of the complex ways in which the Sun’s magnetic field interacts with its atmosphere to produce many dynamic processes such as solar flares and huge ejections from the Sun that influence the space weather around the Earth.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Communications Office.

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