31 January 2022

HEAD Announces 2022 Award Winners

Megan Watzke
HEAD Press Officer

The Executive Committee of the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society would like to announce the winners of the HEAD Early Career Prize, the Mid-Career Prize, and the Innovation Prize for 2022. The HEAD Executive Committee would also like to announce three finalists selected for the 2022 Dissertation Prize.

HEAD 2022 prize winner photos
HEAD 2022 award winners and finalists (left to right): Laura Lopez, Early Career Prize; Keith Arnaud, Innovation Prize; Brad Cenko, Mid-Career Prize; Kishalay De, Ariadna Murguia-Berthier, and Jakob van den Eijnden, Dissertation Prize finalists.

Laura Lopez of The Ohio State University was awarded the HEAD Early Career Prize, given for a significant advance or accomplishment (observational or theoretical) in high-energy astrophysics by an individual astrophysicist within 10 years of receiving their PhD. Lopez was cited "for her novel and sustained contributions to our understanding of supernova remnants and compact objects in the local universe as well as her pioneering considerations of stellar feedback in HII regions."

“I am truly honored to receive the HEAD Early Career Prize. I am grateful to my talented group members and to my outstanding mentors who have supported me along the way,” said Lopez. “Since I was a student, I have appreciated being part of the wonderful high-energy astrophysics community, so this award means a lot to me.”

The 2022 HEAD Mid-Career Prize recognizes a significant advance or accomplishment (observational or theoretical) in high-energy astrophysics by an individual astrophysicist within fifteen years of receiving their PhD. This year’s winner is Brad Cenko of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) "for outstanding leadership, discovery, and characterization of high-energy transient phenomena from tidal disruption events, counterparts to gravitational-wave mergers, and gamma-ray bursts."

“I want to thank the High Energy Astrophysics Division for this tremendous honor,” said Cenko. “More than anything, it’s a testament to how fortunate I’ve been to have such wonderful colleagues — students, postdocs, collaborators, mentors, and friends — and to work with such incredible teams — in particular the Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory and the Zwicky Transient Facility.”

The HEAD Innovation Prize recognizes the development of foundational, innovative, and/or revolutionary instrumentation or software tools that have led to groundbreaking results in high-energy astrophysics. The 2022 Innovation Prize has been awarded to Keith Arnaud (GSFC and the University of Maryland) “for continuous innovation in developing and maintaining XSPEC, the X-ray spectral fitting package, which has become the world standard for analysis of spectra from X-ray and gamma-ray missions.”

“I am very surprised and honored to receive this award. XSPEC has been a collaborative endeavor for over three decades and I’m thankful for everyone who has contributed and to the multiple institutions which have supported all our work.” said Arnaud. “My goal has always been to raise the productivity of my fellow astronomers and I’m happy to have played a small part in the exciting research in many areas of high-energy astrophysics.”

The HEAD Executive Committee also has chosen three finalists for the 2022 HEAD Dissertation Prize, an award for a recent outstanding PhD research. The finalists are Ariadna Murguia-Berthier for her work on binary neutron star mergers, conducted at the University of California, Santa Cruz, under the supervision of Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz and Scott Noble; Jakob van den Eijnden for his work on X-ray and radio studies of accreting neutron stars, conducted at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, under the supervision of Nathalie Degenaar; and Kishalay De for his work on cosmic fireworks in the lives of compact binaries, conducted at the California Institute of Technology under the supervision of Mansi Kasliwal.

On Monday, March 14, 2022, the three finalists presented invited talks at the 19th HEAD meeting held in Pittsburgh, PA. The HEAD 2022 Dissertation Prize was awarded to Dr. Kishalay De for his thesis entitled "The Whisper and the Bang: Cosmic Fireworks in the Lives of Compact Binaries."

"I'm grateful to the High Energy Astrophysics Division for this tremendous honor. I'd like to thank all my mentors for their guidance and for helping me grow as a researcher over the last few years," said Dr. De. "I'd like to wholeheartedly thank my amazing colleagues in the Palomar Gattini-IR and the Zwicky Transient Facility collaborations, without whom this work would not have been possible."

More information about the HEAD, its leadership, prizes, and upcoming meetings can be found at http://head.aas.org/.


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