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ASP Announces 2017 Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award

Thursday, September 21, 2017 - 08:24

This post is adapted from an Astronomical Society of the Pacific press release.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) has chosen to present the 2017 Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award to a longtime friend and supporter of the ASP: Dr. Rick Fienberg, Press Officer for the American Astronomical Society.

The Fraknoi Supporters Award is named in honor of Andrew Fraknoi, former ASP executive director, who shaped ASP’s educational mission and left an enduring mark and profound impact on the organization. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions towards ASP’s mission of advancing public understanding of science through astronomy. We have chosen to honor Rick Fienberg for the countless ways he has actively promoted the interests and welfare of the ASP for many years — both inside the AAS and within the astronomy community at large.

Rick has been the champion for numerous collaborative efforts between the ASP and AAS, such as the Astronomy Ambassadors program. Astronomy Ambassadors two-day workshops are held at AAS winter meetings and help early-career astronomers become better science communicators and outreach providers.

Rick was also instrumental in obtaining conference scholarships for ASP’s 128th Annual Meeting, which focused on best practices for engaging underserved audiences in the 2017 Great American Eclipse. STEM leaders working in underserved communities across the nation — many of whom had never been to an ASP meeting — attended thanks to AAS support made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, NSF-sponsored mini-grants provided by the AAS helped many of our attendees purchase the education materials needed to make their eclipse events even more meaningful. Tens of thousands of underserved youth across the country fully engaged in the solar eclipse thanks to the AAS scholarships and mini-grants, and neither would have happened without Rick’s advocacy and help.

More recently, in his role as co-creator of the Galileoscope educational telescope kit, Rick helped the ASP secure a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to launch a professional development project to train science educators to lead inquiry-rich, investigatory learning experiences that help their audiences understand basic optics, how telescopes function, and the scientific processes that astronomers use to understand the cosmos.

Rick Fienberg has a BA in physics and an MA and PhD in astronomy. While in graduate school, Rick discovered he enjoyed teaching and writing about astronomy more than doing research. So in 1986, just a year after finishing his doctorate, he became an assistant editor at Sky & Telescope, and within five years he was running the parent company, Sky Publishing. Rick now manages media relations for the American Astronomical Society. He has been a member of the ASP for over 30 years.

Mary Mathias
Content Editor & Website Coordinator
American Astronomical Society (AAS)
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