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2007 ASP Award Recipients Press Release

Astronomical Society of the Pacific Announces 2007 Award Winners in Astronomy Research and Education

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) announced today the eight winners of its 2007 awards for excellence in astronomy research and education.

The ASP's most prestigious award, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal for lifetime achievement in astronomy has been awarded to Martin Harwit, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, Cornell University.

Dr Harwit is noted for his pioneering efforts in establishing the field of infrared astronomy from space, thereby opening up the entire infrared and submillimeter wavelength range to observation. Harwit founded a rocket-based infrared astronomical program at Cornell which led directly to the first space-based infrared observation via Aerobee sounding rockets in 1970. He also played a leading role in the development and use of the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) and the Submillimeter Wave Astronomy Satellite (SWAS).

His theoretical contributions include early work on the anticipated appearance of young massive stars still enveloped in their cocoon of dust and gas, predictions of the infrared emission from zodiacal cloud dust grains, the existence of starburst galaxies, and much more. Harwit carried his high standards for scholarship to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., where he served as Director from 1987 to 1995. While there, he influenced millions of visitors through his thoughtful approach to exhibits that illuminated for the public how important advances in science are made. His courageous advocacy using historical research to formulate public policy is a fine example of putting principle above politics despite enormous popular resistance.

Awarded in most years since 1898, the Bruce Gold Medal is widely recognized as one of astronomy's most prestigious awards. Previous winners include such influential astronomers as Walter Baade, Edwin Hubble, George Ellery Hale, and Fred Hoyle.

More information on Bruce Medal winner Martin Harwit may be found at

In addition to the Bruce medal, the ASP has announced the following 2007 awards:

The Maria & Eric Muhlmann Award, for the development of innovative research instruments and techniques, to Harold A. McAlister of Georgia State University and the CHARA Array Project Team. The Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array at Mount Wilson Observatory, a long baseline optical interferometric array of six 1-meter telescopes that provides the resolving power of a telescope a fifth of a mile in diameter, is the most powerful instrument of its kind. CHARA observations have led to the first angular resolution measurements of some of the smallest stars, and it was recently used to make the first direct measurement of the radius of a planet outside the solar system.

The Robert J. Trumpler Award for an outstanding recent PhD thesis, to Dr. Edo Berger (thesis at Caltech, now at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institute of Washington). Dr. Berger's thesis has made seminal contributions to our understanding of gamma-ray bursters, revealing fundamental aspects of their nature almost 40 years after they were first discovered.

The Thomas J. Brennan Award, for excellence in the teaching of astronomy in grades 9-12, to Mr. Kenneth Zeigler, astronomy teacher at the Eagle Point School of Buckeye, Arizona, a secure facility for boys aged 13-18 operated by the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections. Working with students who have been described as "the neediest of the needy," Mr. Zeigler's uses astronomy to engage them in learning, with truly inspirational results.

The Klumpke-Roberts Award, for contributing to the public understanding of astronomy, to Noreen A. Grice, President of You Can Do Astronomy, LLC, and Planetarium Operations Coordinator, Museum of Science, Boston. Ms. Grice has a deep commitment to making astronomy accessible to people with disabilities, and unique creative talents to apply to the task. She is best known as the author of the book, Touch the Universe: A NASA Braille Book of Astronomy that couples Hubble Space Telescope images with Braille, tactile imagery, and large print format to bring the wonder of new astronomical discoveries to an audience previously excluded from participating.

The Richard H. Emmons Award for Excellence in College Astronomy Teaching, to Andrew Fraknoi, Astronomy Instructor, Foothill College. A distinguished astronomy educator with a national reputation, Mr. Fraknoi is a long-time very popular community college instructor, textbook author, co-founder of the Astronomy Education Review, prolific writer and speaker, founder of the "Cosmos in the Classroom" workshops for college faculty, and former Executive Director of the ASP.

The Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Award, for outstanding public outreach to K-12 students and the public by an amateur astronomer, to Richard J. Smith of Sparks, Nevada. Described as a "natural born teacher," Mr. Smith has brought his passion for astronomy, his dedication, and his skill at exciting others to the entire Reno/Sparks/Lake Tahoe area. As a leader of the local Project ASTRO and Family ASTRO program, he has reached hundreds of local youths. As an adjunct instructor in the Teacher Education and Science Department of Sierra Nevada College, he has brought inquiry-based learning techniques to pre-service teachers. And through uncounted star parties and day-time astronomy programs, he has brought the wonders of the universe to schools, community groups, families, youth groups, indigenous peoples groups, and many more.

The Amateur Achievement Award, for significant observational or technological contributions by an amateur astronomer, to Peter Francis Williams, a distinguished amateur astronomer from New South Wales, Australia. Some highlights of Williams' research include the early detection of declines in R Corona Borealis-type stars and the long-term monitoring of several southern Mira variables and eclipsing binaries. In both cases, his work has been of direct value to professional astronomers by alerting them to events in time for follow-up work by satellites and larger ground-based telescopes. He was the first person to detect the naked-eye nova, Nova Vel 1999.

The awards will be presented at the ASP's 2007 annual meeting and conference in Chicago on September 7.

Founded in 1889 in San Francisco, the ASP is one of the nation's leading organizations devoted to improving people's understanding, appreciation, and enjoyment of astronomy and space. Serving research astronomers, educators of all descriptions, and amateur astronomers, the ASP publishes both scholarly and educational materials, conducts professional development programs for formal and informal educators, and holds conferences, symposia, and workshops for astronomers and educators who specialize in astronomy education and outreach. The ASP's education programs are funded by its own members, corporations, private foundations, NASA, and the National Science Foundation.