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Astronomical Society of the Pacific Presents Priscilla and Bart Bok Awards to Two High School Seniors at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

July 21, 2009

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) presented Priscilla and Bart Bok Awards to two high School Seniors at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair held May 10 to 15 in Reno this year. The first prize of $1,000 went to Keith Austin Hawkins for his project, "A Time-dependent Impact Parameter Model Sheds light on the Evolution of Galaxy Morphology in compact Clusters of Galaxies." Keith is a high school senior who will major in physics and astronomy at Ohio University next year. He worked on this project with help from Dr. Steven Cederbloom of Mt. Union College, and they hope to submit a paper to the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (PASP), a peer-reviewed scientific journal for astronomical research papers.

The second prize of $500 went to Caroline Julia von Wurden for her project "Determining the Orbital Elements of Minor Planet 23265." Caroline, also a senior, will attend the University of California, Berkeley, next year, majoring in physics. She chose this asteroid, which she observed through creative access to imaging data, because it was named for her at the INTEL fair in 2007 when the Lincoln Near Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) project named an asteroid for all of the top winners.

Judges for the awards were Dr. Greg Schultz from the Space Science Lab at the University of California, Berkeley; and Dr. John Glaspey and Dr. Katy Garmany, both from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona.

According to Dr. Katy Garmany, "The Bok Awards are especially important for encouraging students as astronomy isn't taught in most high schools, nor is it an important part of the curriculum like other science courses. As amateur astronomers know, getting involved canbe both expensive and time consuming. This make awards like the Bok Award all the more important for encouraging students. The projects that these high school students are undertaking are really spectacular."

The Priscilla and Bart Bok Awards are given jointly by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the American Astronomical Society. The main criterion for selecting the two annual Bok Awards is scientific merit. Observational, instrumental, theoretical and interdisciplinary projects involving physics, mathematics, computer sciences, and engineering in support of astronomy are eligible. The awarded funds are intended to be used by the recipients to further their education and research efforts.

The Bok prize is named for Bart and Priscilla Bok. Bart Bok was an outstanding research astronomer who made important contributions to our understanding of the Milky Way and of star formation. He received the ASP's Bruce Medal in 1977 for lifetime achievement in astronomy. Throughout his life, and especially as an ASP Board member, Bok was a strong advocate for outreach and education in astronomy as was his wife, Priscilla, who was a distinguished astronomer in her own right. They are co-authors of a celebrated book on the Milky Way. Upon his death in 1983, the ASP established the Bart Bok Memorial Fund to support educational projects. About 10 years ago, at the suggestion of the American Astronomical Society, the activities supported by the Bok Fund were expanded to include the joint sponsorship of an astronomy award at Intel Science and Education Fair.

Founded in 1889 in San Francisco, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific's mission is to increase the understanding and appreciation of astronomy by engaging scientists, educators, enthusiasts and the public to advance science and science literacy. Information regarding the ASP can be found online at http://www.astrosociety.org/about.html. Specific information on the Society's array of awards for scientists, educators and amateur astronomers is located online at http://www.astrosociety.org/membership/awards/awards.html