4 January 2023

2023 LAD Laboratory Astrophysics Prize Goes to Reggie Hudson

Kerry Hensley

Kerry Hensley American Astronomical Society (AAS)

This post is adapted from a Laboratory Astrophysics Division press release:

Reggie Hudson
Reggie Hudson

The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is awarding its 2023 Laboratory Astrophysics Prize to Dr. Reggie Hudson of the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC). This prize is given to Dr. Hudson in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the chemistry of ices in the interstellar medium and in the solar system.

The Laboratory Astrophysics Prize, LAD’s highest honor, is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to laboratory astrophysics over an extended period of time. For nearly four decades, Dr. Hudson has been a leading figure in the infrared spectroscopy and radiation chemistry of extraterrestrial ices. Dr. Hudson was one of the first to show that upon energetic processing of ice analogues, new species can form through solid-state reactions, and that they can be identified and quantified by infrared spectroscopy. He has spent many years developing a library of the optical properties and spectroscopic features of astronomical ice analogues, which have found important applications to space- and ground-based observations. This work will be great service to the astrochemistry community as it aims to identify ice features in JWST observations.

Dr. Hudson’s work was instrumental in establishing, after long controversy, that the mysterious infrared feature at 4.62 microns detected towards high-mass young stellar objects was in fact due to the cyanate anion, OCN-. Lab-based predictions of interstellar ketenimine and ethylene glycol were soon verified by radio astronomers.

More recently, Dr. Hudson’s research has continued to focus on generating infrared band strengths and optical constants of astronomical ices, establishing trends among low-temperature reaction paths, examining ices of Pluto and Titan's atmosphere, documenting radiolytic lifetimes of amino acids and nucleobases, and even studying hydroxylation in lunar regolith samples returned by the Apollo missions.

Dr. Hudson received his undergraduate degree from Pfeiffer University and his PhD in physical chemistry from the University of Tennessee. He was a postdoctoral researcher at University College London and a Professor of Chemistry at Eckerd College (Florida) for 30 years. In 2009, Dr. Hudson moved to NASA GSFC to lead the Cosmic Ice Laboratory. While at GSFC, he has held the positions of Lead Scientist, Associate Chief of the Astrochemistry Laboratory, and Acting Chief of the Planetary Systems Laboratory. He is a member of AAS, the American Geophysical Union, Sigma Xi, and the American Chemical Society, and he served as the Chair of the American Chemical Society’s Astrochemistry Subdivision (2016–2017). He also serves on the editorial board of the journal Astrobiology.

The LAD Laboratory Astrophysics Prize includes a cash award, a framed certificate, and an invited lecture at a meeting of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division.

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