31 May 2023

LAD Awards 2023 Dissertation Prize to Katarina Yocum

Rachel Smith NC Museum of Natural Sciences/Appalachian State Univ.

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

Katarina YocumThe AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2023 Dissertation Prize, given to an individual who has recently completed an outstanding theoretical or experimental doctoral dissertation in  laboratory astrophysics. For 2023 the prize goes to Dr. Katarina Yocum for her thesis The Development and Application of SubLIME: Sublimation of Laboratory Ices Millimeter/submillimeter Experiment. Yocum earned her PhD at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, working with Professor Susanna Widicus Weaver. She is now a NASA Postdoctoral Program (NPP) Fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC).

Yocum is being cited for "the transformational development of the new method, Sublimation of Laboratory Ices Millimeter/submillimeter Experiment (SubLIME), for studying interstellar, planetary, and cometary ices." Her research involved employing a new technique to conduct gas-phase rotational spectroscopy of molecules released from interstellar and cometary ice analogs during thermal and photo-processing of ices. Rotational spectroscopic measurements allow more complicated chemistry to be disentangled than in traditional studies. These new results are also directly comparable to observations of comets and interstellar gases.

Yocum built the instrument in the Widicus Weaver Lab at Emory University and a second instrument in the SubLIME Lab at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; conducted all of the measurements; analyzed all of the results; and published two manuscripts as part of her graduate research. For more information about Yocum and her work, please see the full LAD press release.

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