Earlier this week, the Bank of England revealed 817 nominees for the new £50 note, which is set to feature a British figure who has made a considerable contribution to science. The list includes computing pioneer Ada Lovelace, early favourite, the physicist Stephen Hawking and the physician who discovered penicillin, Alexander Fleming, as well as several lesser known and more surprising entries. 

By Leah Elston-Thompson, senior account executive at Stone Junction

The new individual will replace the individuals who are currently featured, Matthew Boulton and James Watt, who were famous for their work during the industrial revolution.

Since the nominations opened four weeks ago, the Bank of England has received 174,112 nominations. To be considered, the nominee must be real, deceased and have contributed to the field of science in the UK in some way.

Some surprising people have met the criteria and made the list — including Margaret Thatcher. Before becoming Prime Minister, Thatcher studied chemistry at the University of Oxford and worked as a research chemist at food company J. Lyons and Co.

The list also includes some big names including Stephen Hawking, expert on black holes and Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin. Bookmaker William Hill currently puts Stephen Hawking as the favourite, with odds of 7/4. Next in line is Dorothy Hodgkin, the Nobel prize winning chemist, at 4/1.

The public can continue to nominate scientists until December 14, after which, the decision will be made by the bank’s Banknote Character Advisory Committee. If there’s a famous British scientist that meets the bank’s criteria who has inspired you, why not nominate them?

Female role models
After the addition of Jane Austen to the £10 note last year, I think it would be interesting to feature a female scientist on the next new note. Women continue to be underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and we shouldn’t underestimate the power of strong female role models.

Of the shortlisted individuals, over 600 are men and almost 200 are women. Ada Lovelace, Dorothy Hodgkin and Rosalind Franklin are all strong contenders for the position.

While we can’t get you or your company onto the new £50 note, we can certainly get you in the media. For more information on Stone Junction’s scientific PR services, give me a call on 01785 225416 or e-mail me at leah@stonejunction.co.uk.

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