New honor highlights contributions to astronomy
Faculty and staff from campus and JPL—as well as dozens of Caltech alumni—were among those selected for the inaugural class of fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), which describes itself as "the major organization of professional astronomers in North America."
The new honor is a recognition of the fellows' "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," according to the AAS's February 25 announcement.
The onetime, initial set of 200 Legacy AAS Fellows who were selected in 2019 includes:
- Fiona Harrison, Benjamin M. Rosen Professor of Physics
- Andrew Ingersoll, professor of planetary science
- Anneila Sargent (MS '67, PhD '77), Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus
- Dawn Gelino, senior staff scientist at IPAC/Caltech
- John Trauger, senior research scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA
- Christina Richey, program manager at JPL
In addition, numerous Caltech alumni were selected:
- Helmut Abt (PhD '52), National Optical Astronomy Observatory
- John Bond (MS '75, PhD '79), University of Toronto
- Kirk Borne (MS '80, PhD '83), Booz Allen Hamilton
- Niel Brandt (BS '92), Pennsylvania State University
- Deepto Chakrabarty (MS '92, PhD '96), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Roger Chevalier (BS '70), University of Virginia
- Barry Clark (BS '59, PhD '64), National Radio Astronomy Observatory
- Andrea Ghez (MS '89, PhD '93), University of California, Los Angeles
- Anthony Gonzalez (BS '95), University of Florida, Gainesville
- Richard Green (PhD '77), University of Arizona
- Michael Hauser (PhD '67), Space Telescope Science Institute
- Jarita Holbrook (BS '87), University of the Western Cape
- Robert Kirshner (PHD '75), Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
- Philip Nicholson (PhD '79), Cornell University
- Mark Reid (PhD '76), Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
- Roger Romani (PhD '87), Stanford University
- Stephen Shectman (PhD '74), Carnegie Observatories
- Neil Sheeley (BS '60, PhD '65), retired
- Jean Swank (PhD '67), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
- Michael Turner (BS '71), University of Chicago
- George Wallerstein (MS '54, PhD '58), University of Washington, Seattle
- Alycia Weinberger (MS '93,PhD '98), Carnegie Institution of Washington
- Jack Wisdom (PhD '81), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Based in Washington, D.C., the AAS has a membership that includes 7,700 physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose work and research fits into the spectrum of astronomical sciences. Though it was established in 1899, this is the first time the organization has honored members as fellows.
"Our members were missing out on the opportunity to not only celebrate the accomplishments of individual astronomers, but also the success of the field more generally," said AAS President Megan Donahue in the announcement. "The places where scientists work look to external indicators of contributions and service. Especially for those of us employed in physics or other physical sciences departments, the AAS Fellows program will increase the visibility and prestige of astronomy within our organizations."
Going forward, there will be an annual call for nominations of new AAS Fellows. A selection committee will evaluate the nominations and forward those that are approved to the AAS Board of Trustees for ratification.
Written by Robert Perkins