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Astronomical Society of the Pacific Announces Recipients of 2014 Annual Awards for Excellence in Astronomy Research, Education and Public Outreach

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the oldest and most respected science education organizations in the U.S., has announced the recipients of its prestigious annual awards recognizing individuals for their leadership in and advancement of astronomy and space science.

Harland Epps

The Maria and Eric Muhlmann Award for important research results based upon development of groundbreaking instruments and techniques to Dr. Harland Epps, Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Lick Observatories of the University of California. Epps is pioneer of astronomical optics whose designs have touched almost every major telescope in the world. Modern astronomy is photon-hungry and depends on efficient optics with a high throughput and that cover a wide field of view. Epps is an expert in designing innovative optics that allow deep imaging surveys and spectroscopy of very faint targets. His work is invisible to many who use his optics, but it has facilitated the modern explosive growth of data in astronomy. Epps has designed optics for several decades and continues to be extremely active with instruments currently on the Keck, MMT, Magellan, Gemini, and Hobby Ebberly telescopes. He has more than 245 technical reports and published papers.

Brendan Bowler

Robert J. Trumpler Award for a recent Ph.D. thesis considered unusually important to astronomy to Dr. Brendan Bowler, who completed his dissertation last year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Institute for Astronomy, and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, Joint Center for Planetary Astronomy. With his Ph.D. thesis project, titled “Direct Imaging Search for Planets Around Low-Mass Stars and Spectroscopic Observations of Young Exoplanets,” Bowler has produced six first-author papers in the Astrophysical Journal, rounding out a very prolific graduate student period with 9 first-author refereed papers and 20 more refereed papers as a co-author. His thesis study involved an adaptive optics imaging search for gas-giant planets and brown dwarfs around 100+ young M stars, and detailed near-infrared spectroscopic study of individual exoplanets found by direct imaging, including the first published near-IR spectrum of the 7 Jupiter-mass extrasolar planet HR 8799b, quickly after its discovery. Perhaps the most important results of his thesis work are the robust statistical constraints on the frequency of gas-giant planets as a function of mass and orbital separation around low-mass stars, advancing the field of exoplanets research considerably.

Laurence Marschall

Richard H. Emmons Award for excellence in teaching college-level astronomy to non-science majors to Dr. Laurence Marschall from Gettysburg College. After establishing the year-long astronomy sequence at the college, Marschall’s courses evolved into the most popular lab-science courses on campus. He incorporated peer-learning years before such techniques became standard fare, and draws from history, literature, current events, and multimedia. He also initiated plans for the campus observatory, a facility that welcomes both science non-science majors. In addition, and in advance of others, he saw the untapped potential for bringing digital imaging technology into the introductory astronomy curriculum. His idea became Project CLEA, a set of laboratory exercises that have revolutionized the teaching of introductory astronomy by having undergraduate students observe the sky, record data, and analyze that data. Project CLEA became the longest-running program funded by the astronomy education section of the National Science Foundation.

Vivian Hoette

Thomas J. Brennan Award for exceptional achievement relating to the teaching of astronomy at the high school level to Vivian Hoette in recognition of her innovative work in education, outreach, and teacher professional development. Since 1975, Hoette has introduced space and earth science to high school students in the classroom and via education programs at Lawrence Hall of Science, Adler Planetarium, and Yerkes Observatory. As a tireless and inspirational educator, she is known as the “go to” person in astronomy education in Illinois and Wisconsin. Deeply involved in launching Yerkes’ Hands-On Universe project in high schools, Hoette has also designed and delivered professional development programs for high school teachers across the country.

Dennis Schatz

Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy to Dennis Schatz, Senior Advisor and former Senior Vice President of Pacific Science Center, in recognition of his work in education outreach and as an author. His more than 20 science books for children have been translated into 23 languages. He was also Principal Investigator for the NSF-supported Portal to the Public, an initiative to develop programs at Pacific Science Center and other informal science education (ISE) institutions as they bring scientists and public audiences together for face-to-face interactions. This program model was evaluated and successfully implemented at eight museums and science centers between 2007 and 2011. It is now an ongoing, core program of Pacific Science Center and by 2015 will be implemented in 43 museums across the country. Schatz’s other contributions include innovative traveling exhibits that reach new audiences that are traditionally not reached by museums; creative and well-reasoned activities that allow youngsters, families, and informal audiences to get a taste of real science; and the training of thousands of educators in a wide range of settings on how to do hands-on science effectively. His impact on the communication of astronomy to the public, and on the behavior of other communicators of astronomy around the country, has been both profound and lasting.

Rod Stubbings

The Amateur Achievement Award recognizes significant observational or technical achievements by an amateur astronomer to Rod Stubbings, a visual observer who has been responsible for notifying the astronomical community of rare or important outbursts of cataclysmic variables for nearly two decades. If it were not for his persistent coverage of the southern sky we would have missed outbursts of recurrent novae and WZ Sge type objects entirely. He has been referred to as a southern hemisphere fire spotter, who notifies the astronomical community so they can throw water on these “fires” as they erupt with their CCDs and spectrographs. In 2012 Rod passed the 200,000 observation mark, one of only a handful of observers to ever reach that goal. He is author or co-author on at least 80 publications in ADS. In recent years he has been instrumental in helping redefine the Z Cam sub-type of dwarf novae, and discovered the recurrent nova V745 Sco in outburst in the morning sky, triggering an AAVSO Alert Notice and significant attention from the astronomical community.

Dan Kaminsky

Las Cumbres Amateur Outreach Awardfor outstanding outreach by an amateur astronomer to children and the public to Dan Kaminsky of the TriState Astronomers (TSA) of Hagerstown, MD. Beyond managing club outreach activities that involve more than 5,000 participants each year, Kaminsky’s commitment to amateur astronomy is demonstrated by his work organizing star parties for Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, public libraries, science centers, church groups, public parks systems, and community service nonprofits. He also provides outreach assistance to individual teachers and schools in the county that request help with star parties for their students. He is unwaveringly enthusiastic, friendly, and knowledgeable, and his efforts have enlightened the public and brought new faces to the community of amateur astronomers.

Awardees will be honored at the ASP’s Annual Awards Dinner, which takes place during the ASP’s Annual Meeting August 4, 5 and 6, 2014 in Burlingame, CA.

About the ASP

Since its modest beginnings 125 years ago, the ASP has evolved into one of the most recognized and well-respected nonprofit astronomy organizations in the country. Boasting diverse national programs endorsed by NASA and the NSF, publications, and awards designed to serve, empower, and recognize professional and amateur astronomers, as well as formal and informal educators, the ASP is unique in its mission to foster science literacy and share the excitement of exploration and discovery through astronomy. The ASP is headquartered in the Ingleside neighborhood of San Francisco, and is financially supported by member dues, donations, grants, subscriptions, and retail sales.