2 February 2021

AAS Names 31 New Fellows for 2021


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AAS Fellow PinThe American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, is honoring 31 members for extraordinary achievement and service by naming them AAS Fellows. They are being recognized for original research and publication, innovative contributions to astronomical techniques or instrumentation, significant contributions to education and public outreach, and noteworthy service to astronomy and to the Society itself. Fellows receive a certificate and a lapel pin.

AAS Fellows Class of 2021

  • Conny Aerts (KU Leuven, Belgium): For pioneering work in the area of asteroseismology.
  • Amy Barger (University of Wisconsin-Madison): For the discovery of distant, dusty, star-forming galaxies and obscured supermassive black holes using multiwavelength observations.
  • Peter Boyce (American Astronomical Society, Retired): For establishing the AAS Executive Office in Washington, DC, and setting a high standard of service to the Society’s members and the broader astronomical community.
  • Catherine Cesarsky (Saclay Nuclear Research Centre, France): For a career of exceptional leadership in astronomy.
  • You-Hua Chu (Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica, Taiwan): For her pioneering work on multiwavelength studies of stellar energy feedback and her extensive service to the American and international astronomical communities.
  • Anita Cochran (University of Texas at Austin): For her research addressing the molecular composition and structure of comets and her decades of service to the community.
  • Françoise Combes (Collège de France): For extraordinary contributions to the field of radio astronomy, in particular contributions to the discovery of carbon monoxide outside our Milky Way.
  • Wanda Díaz-Merced (National Astronomical Observatory of Japan): For significant and innovative leadership in increasing access to astronomy for people who have lost their eyesight.
  • Frank Drake (SETI Institute): For pioneering a novel, practical, and durable scheme for uncovering intelligence elsewhere in the cosmos.
  • Gary J. Ferland (University of Kentucky): For his innovative work in developing and applying the Cloudy spectral synthesis code to understand physical processes in the interstellar medium.
  • Alexei V. Filippenko (University of California, Berkeley): For his seminal contributions to studies of black holes, active galaxies, supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, and the accelerating expansion of the universe and for his success in educating the general public about astronomy.
  • Joshua Frieman (Fermilab / University of Chicago): For significant theoretical work on inflationary cosmology and dark energy and for pioneering contributions to optical survey science.
  • John S. Gallagher III (University of Wisconsin-Madison): For multimessenger studies of the properties of extragalactic systems, contributions to the development of key observational capabilities, and his work as longtime Editor of the Astronomical Journal.
  • Philip R. Goode (New Jersey Institute of Technology): For pioneering work in helioseismology and for leadership in university-based solar physics.
  • John Grunsfeld (NASA, Retired): For risking life and limb in the service of fellow astronomers; lifelong contributions to astronomy and astrophysics in scientific research, instrumentation, and leadership; and as a global ambassador of astronomy.
  • Puragra Guhathakurta (University of California, Santa Cruz): For seminal contributions to studies of galaxy formation and evolution and stellar populations as well as a lifetime of dedicated service to the training of young scientists.
  • Heidi Hammel (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy): For significant contributions to planetary science, in particular her work on Uranus, Neptune, and impacts upon Jupiter, and for leadership in science management.
  • John Hawley (University of Virginia): For pioneering work in computational astrophysics and its application to studies of accretion disks and jets.
  • John P. Hughes (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey): For outstanding accomplishments in X-ray astronomy, including critical contributions to the development of the Chandra X-ray Observatory.
  • Roberta Humphreys (University of Minnesota): For a distinguished scientific career studying massive stars and for a long history of significant scientific leadership.
  • Garth D. Illingworth (University of California, Santa Cruz): For path-breaking studies of infant galaxies at the dawn of the universe, lifelong service to the astronomical community, and astute guidance on the national and international scene.
  • Rachel Ivie (American Institute of Physics): For a groundbreaking career of statistical studies tracking important diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the astronomical sciences.
  • Victoria Kaspi (McGill University, Canada): For innovative work in the field of neutron stars and pulsars.
  • Mark S. Marley (NASA Ames Research Center): For innovative and foundational contributions to a remarkable diversity of topics within planetary, exoplanetary, and substellar object science.
  • Matt Mountain (Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy): For exceptional leadership enabling research across the electromagnetic spectrum, and for promoting the advance of astronomy and scientific inquiry to policy makers worldwide.
  • Richard Mushotzky (University of Maryland): For his leadership in X-ray and multiwavelength imaging, timing, and spectroscopy focusing on the physics of black hole accretion, evolution of the elements, and cosmology.
  • Rita Sambruna (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center): For exceptional contributions to the fundamental understanding of relativistic jets from supermassive black holes, for being an ally to, and role model for, underrepresented groups in the field; and for leadership and service.
  • Daniel Wolf Savin (Columbia University): For wide-ranging contributions to astrophysically motivated atomic and molecular collision studies and for his extensive service to the AAS and the laboratory astrophysics community.
  • Harold Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory): For pioneering spectroscopic techniques to quantify the abundances of cometary volatiles and for significant contributions to solar system studies with the Hubble Space Telescope and the New Horizons and Rosetta spacecraft.
  • Belinda Wilkes (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory): For dedicated leadership of the astronomical community as director of the Chandra X-ray Center.
  • Ellen Zweibel (University of Wisconsin-Madison): For extraordinary and sustained contributions to theoretical plasma astrophysics and community leadership.

The inaugural class of AAS Fellows, called Legacy Fellows, was named last year. To avoid a large backlog of highly deserving people, the class of 2020 included more than 200 Society members such as past recipients of certain awards from the AAS or its topical Divisions, distinguished AAS elected leaders and volunteer committee members, and previously unrecognized individuals with long histories of outstanding research, teaching, mentoring, and service.

For various technical reasons, nine scientists whom the AAS Board of Trustees intended to include among the Legacy Fellows were left off the original list and have been added retroactively. All are being recognized for enhancing and sharing humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe through personal achievement and extraordinary service to the astronomical sciences and to the AAS.

Additional Legacy Fellows

  • Charles Alcock (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)
  • Kim Coble (San Francisco State University)
  • David Morrison (SETI Institute)
  • Eugene Parker (University of Chicago)
  • Rachel Somerville (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)
  • Rashid Sunyaev (Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics)
  • Harvey Tananbaum (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian)
  • Martin Weisskopf (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center)
  • Erick Young (Universities Space Research Association)

“It is wonderful to be able to recognize the scientific accomplishments and service to astronomy of a small group of our outstanding members each year,” says AAS President Paula Szkody (University of Washington). “Most prizes celebrate only one or two people, but the AAS Fellows program allows us to showcase the achievements of a larger number of AAS members at a wide variety of institutions and across the full spectrum of the astronomical sciences.”

For more information, see the AAS Fellows page, the AAS Fellows FAQ page, and last year’s press release.

Nominations for the AAS Fellows class of 2022 will be due on 30 June 2021.


Rick Fienberg
AAS Press Officer
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Kevin B. Marvel
AAS Executive Officer
+1 202-328-2010 x114

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership (approx. 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, science advocacy, education and outreach, and training and professional development.