7 February 2020

AAS Names Two More Prize Recipients


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The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, has named two more prize recipients, adding to the ones announced last month after the 235th AAS meeting in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. The Society’s Board of Trustees approved the additional awards on Thursday, 6 February, ratifying the recommendations of two AAS prize committees that weren’t able to complete their work in time for the January meeting.

The 2020 Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy, for outstanding research and promise for future research by a postdoctoral woman researcher within five years after earning her PhD, goes to Caroline Morley (University of Texas at Austin) for her innovative work on modeling the atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs. She has advanced our understanding of clouds and photochemical hazes and the role they play in observations of transmission and emission spectra. Her work has paved the way for the robust detection of water and other molecules in exoplanet atmospheres.

The 2020 Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation, awarded for the design, invention, or significant improvement of instrumentation leading to advances in astronomy, goes to Oswald “Ossy” Siegmund (University of California, Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory) for his significant and innovative contributions to the technology of photon counting detectors and the impact these instruments have had on advancing our understanding of the universe. His role in developing and continually improving microchannel plate (MCP) detectors has been transformative to a broad range of astrophysical studies. Sensors incorporating MCPs are used in particle detectors and in astronomical instruments spanning X-ray, ultraviolet, and visible wavelengths. Over several decades detector technology directly enabled by Siegmund has been incorporated into numerous NASA, European Space Agency, and Department of Energy projects and has led to fundamental astrophysical discoveries.

“Calling prize winners to let them know they’ve won an award is by far the best part of this AAS President gig,” says Megan Donahue (Michigan State University). “AAS prizes not only acknowledge the recipients, but also the people who surround and support them. It’s a win-win for the awardees, their institutions, their collaborators, and the AAS — which gets to celebrate the many kinds of excellent work being done in our field.”


Rick Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
+1 857-891-5649

Related press release:

High-resolution images of the AAS prizewinners are available from Crystal Tinch, AAS Communications & Engagement Coordinator.

About the AAS

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership of more than 8,000 also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising the astronomical sciences. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe, which it achieves through publishing, meeting organization, education and outreach, policy advocacy, and training and professional development.