14 April 2022

Ci Xue Named Winner of 2021 Robert L. Brown Outstanding Dissertation Award

Kenneth Kellermann NRAO


The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) / Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) is pleased to announce that Dr. Ci Xue is the winner of the 2021 Robert L. Brown Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award for her University of Virginia dissertation, "Discovery and Morphology of Complex Molecules toward Interstellar Molecular Clouds." Xue's dissertation used observations made with the Very Large Array and the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array to explore diverse star-forming dense clouds in the Milky Way. The observations traced how complex organic chemicals form and survive as building blocks of biological macromolecules. The results of Xue's thesis will guide similar projects in astrochemistry for new and powerful instruments to come. The award presentation and lecture by Dr. Xue will take place in Charlottesville, VA, on 28 April 2022.

The Robert L. Brown Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award is administered by AUI and the NRAO on behalf of Bob Brown’s family and friends to honor Bob’s life and career. The award is given each year to a recent recipient of a doctoral degree from any recognized degree-granting institution in the United States. The recipient's dissertation must be substantially based on new observational data obtained at any AUI-operated facility and considered to be of exceptionally high scientific value and impact within and beyond the area of study. 

The award is available to degree recipients of any nationality and consists of $1,000, a framed certificate, and an invitation to give a lecture at the NRAO.

Application Guidelines: To be eligible, the applicant must have successfully defended the thesis during the calendar year of the award. The deadline for receipt of applications and supporting materials for the 2022 award is 31 December 2022.

Applicants should send an e-mail to RLBrownAward@nrao.edu providing the following:

  • A brief summary describing the major scientific highlights of their dissertation, including to what extent the observations, data analysis, and interpretation were conducted independently by the student
  • A PDF copy of the accepted thesis, either sent to RLBrownAward@nrao.edu or made available via a link given in the email
  • The date of their successful thesis defense
  • The name and contact information of their primary thesis supervisor
  • Published papers or papers submitted for publication, or portions thereof, based substantially on the dissertation

Verification of the successful thesis defense and statement that the applicant has successfully completed all university requirements for the PhD should be sent directly by the appropriate university authority to RLBrownAward@nrao.edu.

Selection: The applications will be judged on their impact to astronomy and the originality and independence of the applicant’s investigation described in the dissertation. The winning applicant will be selected by a committee appointed by the NRAO Director. If, in the opinion of the committee, in any given year none of the theses are sufficiently meritorious, the award will not be given in that year. Questions may be addressed to RLBrownAward@nrao.edu.