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Astronomical Society of the Pacific Honors Dr. Ken Kellermann with Prestigious Bruce Gold Medal Award

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), one of the oldest and most respected science education organizations in the United States, has announced that Dr. Kenneth Kellermann is the 2014 recipient of its Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal. Dr. Kellermann, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, Va., is recognized for his lifetime achievements in founding radio astronomy as a major branch of global astronomy, for contributing to the development of modern cosmology, and for his efforts inventing Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI).

Dr. Ken Kellerman

Kellermann’s early work on radio source surveys, counts, and spectra in the 1960 were a contributing factor to the development of modern cosmology, helping to solidify the basic conclusion that the Universe was not in a steady state. As a member of the team that invented the VLBI, his work opened a new window on the Cosmos, which revolutionized astronomy through milliarcsecond imaging and microarcsecond astrometry. Using the VLBI technique, Kellermann and colleagues discovered superluminal motion in radio source active galactic nuclei (AGN). These results demonstrated the existence of relativistic expansion of powerful radio jets from supermassive black holes, thereby providing the first evidence for relativistic bulk motions in the Cosmos. And by correlating signals from ground antennas with those from a radio antenna in space, VLBI increases the maximum baseline for interferometry to many times the Earth’s diameter, resulting in the highest resolution imaging in history.

Kellermann’s recent work has focused on deep radio surveys with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). His pioneering study of the micro-Jansky radio source population provides a unique and powerful tool to study galaxy formation. These ultra‐deep radio observations enable a dust‐free measure of star formation rates in early galaxies, as well as of optically obscured active galactic nuclei (AGN). He was involved in the development of the VLA and led the ‘scientific charge’ for the creation of the Very Long Baseline Array, two radio telescopes that have had a profound influence on modern astrophysics. He has also been a staunch advocate for the next generation radio telescopes, in particular the Square Kilometer Array (SKA). His advocacy for the SKA has led to numerous pathfinder telescopes as well as helping to realize phase I of the full SKA by the international community, for which the formal design phase was initiated in 2013.

Kellermann has chaired numerous international committees in astronomy, is an active leader at the International Astronomical Union, and has served as a strong voice for astronomy at the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering for close to 40 years. His work on the Committee on Radio Frequencies at the National Academies has been critical to the protection of terrestrial radio astronomy. He has mentored and inspired graduate students and postdocs, many of whom have gone on to leadership positions in global astronomy, including Max Planck directors and major research university professorships.

Kellermann’s contributions to the field, in terms of techniques, telescopes, teaching, and deep physical insight, have been made at the most fundamental levels of physics and astronomy. He can be considered one of the true founders of radio astronomy as a major discipline in global science. Kellermann 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 NRAO

Founded in 1956, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory provides state-of-the-art radio telescope facilities for use by the international scientific community. The NRAO is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the terms of a cooperative agreement between the U.S. National Science Foundation and Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), a science management corporation.

About the Bruce Medal

The highest award bestowed by the ASP, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal recognizes a recipient for his or her lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy. Awarded since 1898, the medal has gone to some of the greatest astronomers of the past century. Follow these links to a complete list of past recipients and a Brief History of the Bruce Medal including medalist biographies.

About the ASP

Since its humble 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.