PAOC Spotlights

Staring into the vortex

Mon March 9th, 2020
Kate S. Petersen, Lauren Hinkel, Jennifer Fentress | EAPS News

 smd_hyperwall_gulf_sst14.27000_print.jpg (Full)


Read the full release at American Astronomical Society 

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, has established a new accolade, Fellow of the AAS, to honor members for extraordinary achievement and service. AAS Fellows will be 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.

An initial group of more than 200 Legacy Fellows has been designated by the AAS Board of Trustees. These include 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. Among this first class of honorees, E. Margaret Burbidge — the first woman to serve as AAS President (1976-1978) — was singled out as Inaugural Fellow. 

“The Board is simply thrilled to honor Margaret in this way,” says current AAS President Megan Donahue (Michigan State University). “At 100 years old, she has seen almost the full history of the Society! She has been an inspiration for so many, especially women like me who use large telescopes, something not possible before Margaret famously broke the observatory gender boundary in the mid-20th century.”

Many other scientific societies acknowledge their members’ scientific accomplishments and service to the field by electing them as Fellows, something the AAS hasn’t done before. “Our members were missing out on the opportunity to not only celebrate the accomplishments of individual astronomers,” says Donahue, “but also the success of the field more generally.” It’s not just a feel-good exercise, she explains. “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.”

Congratulations to MIT/EAPS affiliates, who were selected as the first class of AAS Fellows:

Name Current Institution MIT/EAPS affiliation
Fran Bagenal  University of Colorado, Boulder PhD '81
Hale Bradt MIT PhD ' 61 (VIII) and former Physics faculty
Deepto Chakrabarty MIT '88 (VIII) and Physics faculty
Peter Gilman HAO/NCAR SM '64, PhD '66 (XIX)
Jacqueline Hewitt MIT PhD '86 (VIII) and Physics faculty
Dara Norman NOAO '88 (XII)
Carle Pieters Brown University '71 (XII), PhD '77 (XII)
Ronald Remillard MIT  SM '81 (VIII), PhD '85 (XII), MIT/Kavli scientist
Sara Seager MIT EAPS faculty
Irwin Shapiro Harvard-Smithsonian, CfA former MIT faculty
Megan Urry Yale University EAPS Visiting Committee member
Faith Vilas Planetary Science Institute SM '75 (XII)
Rainer Weiss MIT '55 (VIII), PhD '62 (VIII), former MIT faculty
Jack Wisdom MIT EAPS faculty