Plenary Speaker: Helen Margolis

Innovations in Timing Infrastructure and Technology: Improving Resilience, Access and Performance


Helen Margolis, Head of Science for the Time & Frequency department at the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and NPL Fellow in Optical Frequency Standards and Metrology.

Helen Margolis is the Head of Science for the Time & Frequency department at the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and an NPL Fellow in Optical Frequency Standards and Metrology. She joined NPL in 1998 following a temporary lectureship at the University of Oxford, where she worked on a range of experiments designed to test the theory of quantum electrodynamics by spectroscopy of highly charged ions. She previously undertook her undergraduate and postgraduate studies in Oxford, being awarded the DPhil degree in 1994.

NPL operates the national time scale UTC(NPL) and the UK primary frequency standards, and uses these to contribute to international timekeeping, as well as to disseminate accurate time and frequency to users across the UK. NPL also carries out a broad programme of research and development in time and frequency metrology. Within this, Helen’s specialist area of research expertise is optical frequency metrology using femtosecond combs, part of the effort to develop a new generation of high accuracy optical atomic clocks based on laser-cooled trapped ions and atoms. This work is expected to lead to a redefinition of the SI unit of time, the second. Helen is the coordinator of a European project Robust optical clocks for international timescales (ROCIT), and the Technical Authority for the National Timing Centre programme.

Helen represents NPL and the UK on various international committees, including the Consultative Committee for Time and Frequency (CCTF) and several of its working groups. She is the current chair of the Executive Committee of the European Frequency and Time Forum and a member of the CODATA Task Group on Fundamental Constants. She has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford since 2017 and was awarded an MBE in 2019 for her services to metrology.

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