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AAS Names Seven Prize Winners

25 Jan 2006

For Release: January 25, 2006


Dr. Robert P. Kirshner, President

Dr. John A. Graham, Secretary

Dr.Steve Maran, Press Officer


The American Astronomical Society announces the selection of seven prize winners. The recipients are:

Dr. J. Roger Angel, Steward Observatory,
University of Arizona
Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation for 2006;

Dr. John E. Carlstrom,
University of Chicago
Dept. of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize for 2006;

Dr. Bryan M. Gaensler,Harvard
SmithsonianCenter for Astrophysics,Newton
Lacy Pierce Prize in Astronomy for 2006;

Dr. Lisa J. Kewley, University of Hawaii
Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy for 2006;

Dr. Bohdan Paczynski, Princeton

Dr. Re’em Sari, California Institute of Technology,
Helen B.Warner Prize for Astronomy for 2006.

Dr. Sidney Wolff, National Optical Astronomy Observatory,
AAS Education Prize for 2006.

The Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation is awarded to an individual, of any nationality, for the design, invention or significant improvement of instrumentation (not software) leading to advances in astronomy. No restrictions are placed on a candidate's citizenship or country of residency.(In order that the scientific impact of the instrumentation may be assessed properly, a considerable period of time may have elapsed between the development of the instrumentation and the granting of the Award.)This Award has been presented annually since 2002 when the first winner was Dr. James E. Gunn,Dr. J. Roger Angelis cited, "For his superlative work spanning two decades on the development of a new generation of large telescopes, his establishment of the Steward Observatory Mirror Lab and a host of extraordinary conceptual ideas that have been turned into practical engineering solutions for astronomy."

The Beatrice M. Tinsley Prize recognizes an outstanding research contribution to astronomy or astrophysics, of an exceptionally creative or innovative character. The Prize is normally awarded every two years. No restrictions are placed on a candidate's citizenship or country of residency. It has been awarded since 1986, when the first recipient was Dr. S. Jocelyn Bell Burnell. Dr. John E. Carlstrom is cited,

"For his innovative work on the use of interferometry to study the early Universe through CMB fluctuations and polarimetry and the Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect. He has produced results that strongly constrain cosmological models of the amount and nature of dark matter and energy and the influence of cosmic inflation."

(CMB is an acronym for “Cosmic Microwave Background” radiation.)

The Newton Lacy Pierce Prize in Astronomy is normally awarded annually for outstanding achievement, over the past five years, in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astronomical object. It is given to an astronomer who has not attained 36 years of age in the year designated for the award. The recipient shall be a resident of North America (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico) or a member of a North American institution, stationed abroad.The Prize has been awarded every year (except 1994) since 1974. Dr.Bryan M. Gaensler is cited,

“For his work on the interactions between neutron stars and their surroundings, which led to our appreciation of the wide diversity of magnetized neutron stars.

The Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy is given annually to a woman resident of North America, who is within five years of receipt of a Ph.D., for distinguished contributions to astronomy or for similar contributions in related sciences which have immediate application to astronomy. Starting in 1934, when the first recipient was Dr. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, and continuing through 1968, it was awarded by the AAS.During 1974-2004, it was awarded by the American Association of University Women with the advice of the AAS, and beginning this year, it is again awarded by the AAS. Dr. Lisa J.Kewley is cited,

“For her powerful work on theoretical modeling and analysis of galaxy spectra. She developed and maintains the on-line MAPPINGS code to model galaxy spectra, and she devised new techniques for simultaneously deriving star formation history, metallicity and reddening.She leads the way in measuring the star formation and chemical enrichment history of the Universe.”

The Henry Norris Russell Lectureship is normally to be chosen annually on the basis of a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research. This award is considered the highest honor conferred by the American Astronomical Society.It has been awarded since 1946, when the first recipient was Dr. Russell himself.Dr. Bohdan Paczynski is cited,

“For his highly original contributions to a wide variety of fields including advanced stellar evolution, the nature of gamma ray bursts, accretion in binary systems, gravitational lensing, and cosmology. His research has been distinguished by its creativity and breadth, as well as the stimulus it has provided to highly productive observational investigations.”

The Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy is normally awarded annually for a significant contribution to observational or theoretical astronomy during the five years preceding the award. It is given to an astronomer who has not attained 36 years of age in the year designated for the award or must be within eight years of receipt of their Ph.D. degree. The recipient shall be a resident of North America (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico) or a member of a North American institution, stationed abroad. It has been awarded each year since 1954, when the initial awardee was Dr. Aden B.Meinel. Dr. Re’em Sari is cited,

“For his diverse contributions to the theoretical understanding of relativistic explosions, gamma-ray bursts and the dynamics of solar system bodies.”

The AAS Education Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the education of the public, students and/or the next generation of professional astronomers.It has been awarded annually since 2001 when the first recipient was Dr. Frank D.Drake.Dr. Sidney Wolff is cited,

“For her extraordinary commitment to science education throughout her career, beginning with authoring an introductory textbook, and culminating in the first professional, refereed, astronomy education journal, the quot;Astronomy Education Review,” which has become a highly-valued and influential communication channel for astronomy educators. “For her dedication, attention and outstanding contributions to astronomy education while in leadership positions at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, the American Astronomical Society, and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. For her efforts in highlighting and advancing astronomy education policy at the local, national and international levels, creating and promoting new opportunities for educators, students and the public.”


The President of the American Astronomical Society, Prof. Robert P. Kirshner, Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University, stated, “It’s a pleasure to congratulate these distinguished astronomers on their well deserved selection for the six awards.They are representative of the finest of our profession.”

The American Astronomical Society, established 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The basic objective of the AAS is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science. The membership (~6,500) also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy.The Society holds two national meetings each year.  Its 207th and most recent meeting, in Washington, DC on January 8-12, 2006, with 3134 registrants, was the largest meeting of professional astronomers ever held.  The Society will next meet in Calgary, Alberta on June 4-8, 2006 and at Seattle, Washington on January 7-11, 2007.