Copley Medal

The Copley Medal is an award given by the Royal Society of London for "outstanding achievements in research in any branch of science, and alternates between the physical sciences and the biological sciences". Awarded every year, the medal is the oldest Royal Society medal still being awarded, having first been given in 1731 to Stephen Gray, who received it for "his new Electrical Experiments: – as an encouragement to him for the readiness he has always shown in obliging the Society with his discoveries and improvements in this part of Natural Knowledge". The medal was created following a donation of £100 to be used for carrying out experiments by Sir Godfrey Copley, for which the interest on the amount was used for several years. The conditions for the medal have been changed several times; in 1736, it was suggested that "a medal or other honorary prize should be bestowed on the person whose experiment should be best approved", and this remained the rule until 1831, when the conditions were changed so that the medal would be awarded to the researcher that the Royal Society Council decided most deserved it. A second donation of £1666 13s. 4d. was made by Sir Joseph William Copley in 1881, and the interest from that amount is used to pay for the medal. The medal in its current format is made of silver gilt and awarded with a £5000 prize.

Since its inception, the medal has been awarded to a number of notable scientists, including 52 winners of the Nobel Prize: 17 in Physics, 21 in Physiology or Medicine, and 14 in Chemistry. These include Frederick Sanger, who was awarded the Copley Medal in 1977 "n recognition of his distinguished work on the chemical structure of proteins and his studies on the sequences of nucleic acids" and is one of four people to have won multiple Nobel Prizes, having won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1958 and 1980. John Theophilus Desaguliers has won the medal the most often, in 1734, 1736 and 1741. In 1976, Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin was the first and as of 2012 the only woman to have won the prize.

Read more about Copley Medal:  Recipients