8 March 2021

AAS Member Receives Ben Barres Fellowship

This post is adapted from a NOGLSTP press release:

Eliot Halley VrijmoetAAS member Eliot Halley Vrijmoet, a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Georgia State University, is among the inaugural recipients of a Ben Barres Fellowship from the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals (NOGLSTP). Vrijmoet (pronounced VRY-moot) is a member of the Research Consortium on Nearby Stars and investigates the sizes and shapes of the orbits in low-mass multiple star systems within 25 parsecs (82 light-years) of our solar system.

The Ben Barres Fellowship supports the professional development of trans, intersex, and non-binary graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Vrijmoet is one of 11 fellows in diverse fields including astrophysics, biochemistry, bioengineering, biophysics, ecology, evolution, microbiology, and neuroscience at universities in the US, Canada, and England. This is a merit-based award, and the support provided is intended, broadly construed, for the recipient’s professional development. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, most of this year's funds were awarded for equipment, software, and supplies but not travel.

The fellowships are named after Ben Barres, a distinguished transgender scientist at Stanford who studied the role of microglia cells in the brain and their interactions with neurons in development and disease. Barres was an ardent campaigner for equal opportunity in science, advocating for underrepresented groups, and was a valued mentor to young scientists. He told his story through a memoir published after his death from cancer in 2017 at age 63.