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The Pierce Prize 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 (for the 2016 prize, for example, the recipient must have been born in 1981 or later). The recipient shall be a resident of North America (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico) or a member of a North American institution stationed abroad.

Self-nominations are allowed. Nominations are due 30 June each year. No individual candidate is eligible for both the Warner and Pierce Prizes.

Donate to the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize Fund

Nomination Checklist

Warner/Pierce Prize Committee

Photo of Karin I. Öberg2016 – Karin I. Öberg
For her research on the astrochemistry and astrophysics of ices and molecules in star-forming regions and protoplanetary disks.
Photo of Heather A. Knutson2015 – Heather A. Knutson
For her transformational work in the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres.
Photo of Nadia L. Zakamska2014 – Nadia L. Zakamska
For her multi-wavelength work on Type II quasars that has characterized these sources in detail and led to the current “standard model” of quasars, as well as her work on finding direct evidence for AGN-driven outflows, regarded as an essential ingredient in galaxy formation models for regulating star formation.
Photo of Jason Kalirai2013 – Jason Kalirai
For major contributions to the field of stellar and Galactic astrophysics, including establishing a fundamental relation of stellar astrophysics, the initial-final mass relation, that maps the fraction of mass loss that stars experience over their lives.
Year Recipient(s) Citation
2012 John A. Johnson For major contributions to understanding fundamental relationships between extrasolar planets and their parent stars, including finding a variety of orientations between planetary orbital planes and the spin axes of their stars, developing a rigorous understanding of planet detection rates in transit and direct imaging experiments, and examining possible correlations between planet frequency and the mass and metallicity of their host stars.
2011 Gaspar Bakos For the impact he has had on the study of exoplanets, his contributions to our understanding of the unexpected diversity of exoplanet properties, and the extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit and capability he has shown in the development of one of the most successful systems for detecting transiting extra-solar planets (HATNet).
2010 Tommaso Treu For his insightful work into the physical understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, groups an clusters, including the coupled evolution of the luminous, dark matter and black hole components
2009 Joshua Bloom In recognition of his work to explore and understand the nature of gamma-ray burst sources, both as a successful observer of these enigmatic and highly transient phenomena, and through his work to synthesize these observations into a coherent model of the mechanisms and astrophysical sites of gamma-ray burst formation.
2008 Lisa J. Kewley For her influential contributions to both the theoretical and observational fields of galaxy evolution. Dr. Kewley has pioneered new and improved techniques to determine key physical parameters as the star formation rate, chemical compositions, and energy source (massive stars versus AGN), which have brought new insights into the history of star-forming galaxies.
2007 Omitted
2006 Bryan M. Gaensler 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.
2005 Andrew Blain For his outstanding contributions to sub-mm and far-IR astronomy.
2004 Niel Brandt For his outstanding contributions to x-ray astronomy.
2003 Xiaohui Fan For his systematic discovery of high redshift quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
2002 Amy Barger In recognition of her outstanding achievement in observational cosmology using data from X-ray through radio wavelengths to explore previously unknown populations of distant galaxies, giving a view of galaxies early in the history of the universe and showing that they are major contributors to the extragalactic background.
2001 Kenneth R. Sembach In recognition of work which has been important in increasing our understanding of the structure and elemental abundances of the gaseous component of the galaxy, especially of the galactic halo, as well as in discovering new facets of the high velocity cloud phenomenon in the galactic periphery.
2000 Kirpal Nandra In recognition of using data from a variety of x-ray satellites to identify reflection spectra and broadened iron lines from accretion disks in active galactic nuclei.
1999 Dennis F. Zaritsky
1998 Andrea M. Ghez
1997 Alyssa A. Goodman
1996 Michael Strauss
1995 Andrew McWilliam
1994 Omitted
1993 Arlin P.S. Crotts
1992 Alexei Filippenko
1991 Kenneth Libbrecht
1990 Kristen Sellgren
1989 Harriet L. Dinerstein
1988 Sallie L. Baliunas
1987 Donald E. Winget
1986 Reinhard Genzel
1985 Richard G. Kron
1984 Marc Aaronson & Jeremy R. Mould
1983 Alan Dressler
1982 Marc Davis
1981 Bruce Margon
1980 Jack Baldwin
1979 D. Harper
1978 James M. Moran, Jr.
1977 Donald N.B. Hall
1976 James Roger Angel
1975 Eric Becklin
1974 Edwin M. Kellogg