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2008 ASP Annual Award Recipients

Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award
Joss Bland-Hawthorn
School of Physics, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia

Karl Glazebrook
Swinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia

Jean-Charles Cuillandre
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope Corporation, Kamuela, Hawaii

The Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award is presented for important research results that are based upon the development of groundbreaking instruments and techniques. In modern astronomy, improvements in instrumentation and observing techniques have often been more important for enhancing the sensitivity of our observations than increases in telescope size. Modern electronic detectors, coupled with novel approaches to background-noise subtraction built on earlier suggestions at a time when the detector technology was immature, have paved the way for the study of the distant universe. The "Nod and Shuffle" technique, developed by this year's ASP Muhlmann awardees -- Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Karl Glazebrook, and Jean-Charles Cuillandre -- is one of these remarkable developments.

This technique has already enabled the Gemini Deep Deep Survey to produce the deepest spectroscopic survey of the sky to date, resulting in breakthroughs centered upon precision measurements of the stellar mass function, star-formation history, and metal abundance of galaxies in the "redshift desert." Twenty percent of the local stellar mass density was in place by a redshift of 1.8, rising to almost 50% by redshift 1. Even more interesting, nearly half of the massive "red-and-dead" galaxies were present by redshift 1.8. This pushes back the time at which these galaxies must have been born in the early universe and suggests that galaxy formation proceeds from larger to smaller sizes — contrary to expectations.

Inventing techniques such as Nod and Shuffle that can have wide ramifications for the sensitivity of all telescopes is one of the most important ways to advance astronomy. It is for this singular achievement that the ASP is pleased to present its 2007 Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award to the Nod and Shuffle team.