Candidate Statement: Mercedes T. Richards

Nominated Office: Councilor

Affiliation: Pennsylvania State University

Position/title: Professor of Astronomy

PhD institution: University of Toronto, 1986

Areas of scientific interest:
My primary research interest is mass transfer in close binary stars. Most recently, I have used time-resolved spectra to create 2D and 3D images of the gas flows around the stars with the aid of Doppler tomography. I have also used hydrodynamic simulations, synthetic spectra, and a long-term radio flare survey to interpret the images and to extract the physical properties of the various accretion phenomena in interacting binary star systems. I have also introduced a new statistical measure of association and correlation, called distance correlation, to large astrophysical databases of galaxy clusters.

AAS positions:
  • Annie J. Cannon Award Committee (2013-2015)
  • Nominating Committee (2007-2010, Chair: 2009-2010)
  • Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer (2004-present)
  • Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (1997-2001)

Other relevant positions and experience:

  • President, IAU Commission 42, Close Binary Stars (2012-2015)
  • IAU Division Steering Committee, Division G (2012-2015)
  • SOC Chair for IAU Symposium 282, "From Eclipsing Binaries to Exoplanets: Essential Modeling Tools" held in Slovakia (2010 - 2012)
  • Founding Director, SEECoS summer research program for high school students in Pennsylvania (2006-2008)

Candidate Statement: I have been a member of the American Astronomical Society for 32 years, and I am proud to be associated with this organization. During that time, the AAS has had a major influence on the public's perception of astronomy as well as the development of new astronomical instruments and techniques, which have led to a deeper understanding of our universe. Our society consists of astronomers from all walks of life and from all over the world, and it has been influential in international matters related to astronomy and science in general. I have served the AAS in several capacities, including the Nominating Committee, Cannon Award Committee, Committee on the Status of Minorities, and as a Harlow Shapley Visiting Lecturer. As a member of the AAS Council, I will help to maintain the high standards set by our Society and continue the tradition of the Council to provide guidance and leadership for the AAS members and the organization as a whole.