19 April 2023

AAS Names Daniel Scolnic as Fred Kavli Plenary Lecturer for 242nd Meeting

With support from the Kavli Foundation, the Vice Presidents of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) name a special invited lecturer to kick off each semiannual AAS meeting with a presentation on recent research of great importance. At the 242nd AAS meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on 5 June 2023, the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture will be given by Daniel Scolnic, an assistant professor in the Department of Physics at Duke University.

Daniel Scolnic

Prof. Scolnic's research focuses on the use of supernovae as cosmological probes, and he has led multiple investigations of Type Ia supernovae using both ground- and space-based telescopes. He has also developed new techniques in image analysis and for measuring distances in the nearby universe.

Scolnic’s talk in Albuquerque will focus on the results of the Pantheon+SH0ES teams, which have made the current best measurements of the present-day expansion rate of the universe. Scientists’ understanding of our growing universe hinges upon the measurement of a value known as the Hubble constant, or H0, which describes how fast the universe is currently expanding. But this value lies at the center of an astronomical conflict: the two methods used to measure H0 produce results that disagree.

In a local approach, astronomers use observations of nearby Type Ia supernovae and variable stars to measure the distances to and recession rates of nearby galaxies, providing a direct calculation of H0. In the global approach, scientists infer H0 indirectly through modeled observations of the cosmic microwave background, relic radiation from the Big Bang.

If these two measurements agreed, they would provide an end-to-end test of our model of the universe. Instead, the values are in tension with each other, suggesting that a problem lurks somewhere in the data, in the analysis, or in the model. Prof. Scolnic will discuss the work from the Pantheon+SH0ES teams, which have dramatically improved the precision of observations and analysis of Type Ia supernovae and variable stars in nearby galaxies to better measure H0 locally.

Prof. Scolnic received his BS degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he earned his PhD at Johns Hopkins University. For his prominent and highly cited research accomplishments, Prof. Scolnic has been named a Sloan Fellow and a Packard Fellow, and he recently received a Department of Energy Early Career Program Award.

The AAS is delighted to honor Prof. Dan Scolnic with the June 2023 Fred Kavli Plenary Lectureship.


Susanna Kohler, Editor, AAS Nova
Susanna Kohler
AAS Communications Manager & Press Officer
+1 202-328-2010 x127
Stephen Unwin
AAS Senior Vice President, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and California Institute of Technology

Astronomer Daniel Scolnic of Duke University will give the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture opening the 242nd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on 5 June 2023. Photo provided by Dan Scolnic.

The Kavli Foundation, established in December 2000 by Fred Kavli, a California business leader and philanthropist, is dedicated to advancing science for the benefit of humanity, promoting public understanding of scientific research, and supporting scientists and their work. The foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, symposia, and other initiatives in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is a major international organization of professional astronomers, astronomy educators, and amateur astronomers. Its membership of approximately 8,000 also includes physicists, geologists, engineers, and others whose 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 as a diverse and inclusive astronomical community, which it achieves through publishing, meetings, science advocacy, education and outreach, and training and professional development.

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