23 January 2023

AAS Names Recipients of 2023 Awards & Prizes


** Contact details appear below. **

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), a major international organization of professional astronomers, announced the recipients of some of its 2023 prizes for outstanding achievements in research and education. 

The 2023 Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, celebrating a career of eminence in astronomical research, goes to Frank Shu (University of California, Berkeley, and University of California, San Diego) for his seminal contributions to theoretical astrophysics, from the formation of stars and planetary systems to the structure of disk galaxies; for his sustained leadership in the global astronomical community; and for his elegant textbooks that have influenced generations of astronomers.

The Dannie Heineman Prize for outstanding mid-career work in astrophysics is given jointly by the AAS and the American Institute of Physics. For 2023, the prize goes to Karen Meech (University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy) for her pioneering work expanding and pushing boundaries in the field of small-body solar-system observational science, and for her transformative contributions that have shaped the broader field of planetary science.

This year's Annie Jump Cannon Award in Astronomy, for outstanding research and promise for future research by a female researcher within five years after earning her PhD, goes to Marta Bryan (University of Toronto) for her leadership in observational studies of gas-giant exoplanet formation, evolution, and impact on planetary systems.

The 2023 Helen B. Warner Prize is awarded for observational or theoretical research by a young astronomer to Ana Bonaca (Carnegie Observatories) for innovative advances in our understanding of the hierarchical formation of the Milky Way and constraints on the galactic potential. The 2022 Helen B. Warner Prize is also announced this year, awarded to Brett McGuire (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for pioneering research into complex astrophysical chemistry, including foundational work on chiral and aromatic molecules in the interstellar medium.

photos of AAS prize winners
Left to right: Frank Shu, Karen Meech, Marta Bryan, Ana Bonaca, and Brett McGuire.

The 2023 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize, which is awarded for outstanding achievement in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astronomical object, goes to Renee Ludlam (Wayne State University) for novel explorations of the relativistic universe that have revealed fundamental properties of neutron stars.

Shouleh Nikzad (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) is receiving the Joseph Weber Award for Astronomical Instrumentation for her pioneering contributions pushing the boundaries of ultraviolet/visible photon-counting charge-coupled devices, her sustained infusion of related technologies across multiple fields, her diligent engineering leadership, and her consistent and attentive mentoring of early-career instrumentation researchers.

The AAS Education Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to the education of the public, students, and/or the next generation of professional astronomers. For 2023 the recipient is Linda Shore (Astronomical Society of the Pacific) for the nation-wide impact of her work educating teachers as Director of the Exploratorium Teacher Institute, and for the development of novel educational programs aimed at non-astronomers as Chief Executive Officer of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

The 2023 Chambliss Astronomical Writing Award for astronomy writing for an academic audience, specifically textbooks at either the upper-division undergraduate or graduate level, is awarded to Henny J.G.L.M. Lamers (University of Amsterdam) and Emily M. Levesque (University of Washington) for their upper-level undergraduate or graduate textbook, Understanding Stellar Evolution (AAS-IOP eBook, 2017).

Photos of AAS prize winners
Left to right: Renee Ludlam, Shouleh Nikzad, Linda Shore, Henny J.G.L.M. Lamers, and Emily M. Levesque.

Special Honors for the 241st AAS Meeting

The Society’s Vice Presidents select two special invited lecturers that traditionally bookend the AAS’s winter meeting: the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecturer and the Lancelot M. Berkeley–New York Community Trust Prize lecturer.

For the 241st meeting, the Vice Presidents selected Jane Rigby (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center) to give the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture, honoring her for exceptional research achievements regarding the evolution of star-forming galaxies and the supermassive black holes they contain. Rigby is also honored for her role at the forefront of commissioning and operations of JWST.

The Lancelot M. Berkeley–New York Community Trust Prize is awarded for highly meritorious work in advancing the science of astronomy, and this year’s prize goes to the Gaia collaboration. The annual Berkeley prize winner is chosen by the three AAS Vice Presidents, in consultation with the Editor in Chief of the AAS journals, to honor significant research published within the preceding 12 months. The Gaia collaboration is honored for enabling a transformative, multidimensional map of the Milky Way. The Berkeley prize lecture was given at the January 2023 AAS meeting in Seattle, Washington, on behalf of the Gaia collaboration by Anthony Brown (Leiden University).

AAS Division Prizes

Most of the AAS’s six subject-specific divisions also award prizes, and three of them — the High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD), the Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD), and the Solar Physics Division (SPD) — recently announced some of their 2023 awardees.

HEAD’s 2023 Innovation Prize, which recognizes development of foundational, innovative, or revolutionary instrumentation or software tools in high energy astrophysics, goes to Gordon Garmire (The Pennsylvania State University) and Mark Bautz (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) for their leadership in the conception, design, delivery, science analysis, and continued support of the Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS) on the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The 2023 HEAD Early Career Prize is awarded to Chiara Mingarelli (University of Connecticut and Flatiron Institute) for her leadership in the analysis of pulsar timing array data and her contributions to our understanding of the stochastic gravitational wave background, and the 2023 HEAD Mid-Career Prize goes to Philip Fajardo Hopkins (California Institute of Technology) for developing numerical methods and tools to advance our theoretical understanding of cosmic ray and astroparticle physics, the evolution of black holes and active galactic nuclei, and dark matter physics. The 2023 HEAD Distinguished Career Prize was awarded to Meg Urry (Yale University) for her remarkable contributions to our understanding of a wide variety of topics in extragalactic high energy astrophysics, for establishing the unification paradigm of active galactic nuclei, for her work on the origin of the extragalactic X-ray background, and for her tireless advocacy and support of women and underrepresented groups in science. This is the first award of the Distinguished Career Prize. The 2023 HEAD Bruno Rossi Prize is awarded to Anatoly Spitkovsky (Princeton University) for his pioneering numerical simulations of collisionless shocks, particle acceleration by shocks and magnetic reconnection, and pulsar magnetospheres and their electromagnetic radiation.

LAD’s highest honor, the Laboratory Astrophysics Prize for significant contributions to laboratory astrophysics over an extended period of time, was awarded to Reggie Hudson (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) this year in recognition of his contributions to the understanding of the chemistry of ices in the interstellar medium and in the solar system. James W. R. Schroeder (Wheaton College) was selected to receive the 2023 LAD Early Career Award for his experimental confirmation of the acceleration of auroral electrons by Alfven waves in the laboratory.

George Fisher (University of California, Berkeley/Space Science Laboratory – Emeritus) is receiving the 2023 SPD George Ellery Hale Prize, awarded for outstanding contributions to solar astronomy over an extended period of time, for his pioneering work on radiative hydrodynamic modeling of solar and stellar flares as a means of understanding the response of the lower atmosphere to flare heating. The 2023 SPD Karen Harvey Prize, which recognizes a significant contribution to the study of the Sun early in a person’s professional career, goes to Bin Chen (New Jersey Institute of Technology) for his research into the physics of solar flares that significantly advances the study of magnetic reconnection and particle acceleration in solar flares.

Buchalter Cosmology Prizes

Ari Buchalter (CEO, Place Exchange) is an astrophysicist-turned-entrepreneur who remains keenly interested in cosmology. In 2014 he created the Buchalter Cosmology Prizes to reward new ideas or discoveries that have the potential to produce breakthrough advances in our understanding of the origin, structure, and evolution of the universe beyond current standard cosmological models. The 2022 winners of the Buchalter prizes are as follows: The $10,000 First Prize was awarded to Samuel Goldstein (Columbia University; Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics), Angelo Esposito (Institute for Advanced Study; Sapienza University of Rome), Oliver Philcox (Columbia University; Simons Foundation), Lam Hui (Columbia University), J. Colin Hill (Columbia University; Flatiron Institute), Roman Scoccimarro (New York University), and Maximilian Abitbol (University of Oxford) for their work entitled “Squeezing fNL out of the matter bispectrum with consistency relations.” Receiving the $5,000 Second Prize are Diego Blas (Autonomous University of Barcelona; The Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology) and Alexander Jenkins (King’s College London) for their work entitled “Bridging the μHz gap in the gravitational-wave landscape with binary resonance,” published in Physical Review Letters. The $2,500 Third Prize was awarded to Daniel Figueroa (University of Valencia – Institute for Corpuscular Physics), Adrien Florio (Brookhaven National Laboratory), Nicolas Loayza (University of Valencia – Institute for Corpuscular Physics), and Mauro Pieroni (Imperial College London) for their work entitled “‘Stairway to Heaven’ — Spectroscopy of Particle Couplings with Gravitational Waves,” published in Physical Review D. For more information about these prizewinning articles, see the Buchalter Cosmology Prize website.


Kerrin Hensley, Media Fellow
Kerry Hensley
AAS Communications Specialist & Deputy Press Officer
202-328-2010 x138

Images of the AAS prizewinners are available from Crystal Tinch, AAS Communications & Engagement Coordinator.

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.

Related Posts