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Dr Helen Mason OBE

Reader in Solar Physics at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

Dr Helen Mason is a Reader in Solar Physics at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics. She has been based at Cambridge University for over 35 years. She obtained a BSc (First Class Honours) and PhD at the University of London. She has taught at Cambridge University, London University and for the Open University. She has been a Tutor at StEds for many years and was Senior Tutor from 2006-2011. She has also served on most of the College committees.

Helen's field of research is solar physics, in particular the ultraviolet and X-ray spectrum of the Sun. She has worked on many joint UK, NASA, ESA and Japanese space projects including Skylab, the Solar Maximum Mission, Yohkoh, SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory), Hinode and SDO (Solar Dynamics Observatory). Recent solar space observations have completely changed our view of the Sun. In 2010, the CHIANTI team, of which Helen is a founder member, was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society's Group Achievers' Award for Geophysics.

Helen has always been keen to convey her passion for solar physics to the general public and to school students. She has given many lectures to schools, and has even worked at summer music festivals, including Glastonbury. In 2013 she gave one of the Friday Evening Discources at the Royal Institution, which can be found on Youtube ( She has written articles for science magazines and participated inseveral radio and TV programmes, most recently the BBC4 program 'Seven Ages of Starlight'.

Helen is keen to promote education in developing countries. She has visited South Africa twice to work on astronomy projects with teachers and students in the former townships. She has also worked in India, with schools in the rural areas of Tamil Nadu.

She has produced an educational web site for teachers and students (11-16 year old) called Sun|trek ( which is used extensively in the UK, USA and worldwide. Her outreach work was recognised in 2010 when she was nominated as one of the six 'Women of Outstanding Achievement'.

Her portrait now hangs in the London headquarters of the Institute of Physics.

In 2014, Helen was awarded an OBE for her services to Higher Education and to Women in Science, Engineering and Technology.