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Dr. Rick Fienberg to receive the Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s 2017 Andrew Fraknoi Supporters Award goes to a longtime friend and supporter of the ASP: Dr. Rick Fienberg, Press Officer for the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

Richard Fienberg

The Fraknoi Supporters Award is named in honor of Andrew Fraknoi, former ASP Executive Director, who shaped the Society’s educational mission and left an enduring mark and profound impact on the organization. The award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions towards ASP’s mission of advancing public understanding of science through astronomy. We have chosen to honor Rick Fienberg for the countless ways he has actively promoted the interests and welfare of the ASP for many years — both inside the AAS and within the astronomy community at large.

Rick has been the champion for numerous collaborate efforts between the ASP and AAS, for example, the Astronomy Ambassadors program. Astronomy Ambassadors 2-day workshops are held at AAS national winter meetings and help early-career astronomers become better science communicators and outreach providers.

Rick was also instrumental in obtaining conference scholarships for ASP’s 128th Annual Meeting, which focused on best practices for engaging underserved audiences in the 2017 Great American Eclipse. STEM leaders working in underserved communities across the nation — many who had never been to our meetings — attended thanks to AAS support made possible by a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition, NSF-sponsored mini-grants provided by the AAS helped many of our attendees purchase the education materials needed to make their eclipse events even more meaningful. Tens of thousands of underserved youth across the country fully engaged in the solar eclipse thanks to the AAS scholarships and mini-grants, and neither would have happened without Rick’s advocacy and help.

More recently, in his role as co-creator of the Galileoscope educational telescope kit, Rick helped the ASP secure a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to launch a professional development project to train science educators to lead inquiry-rich, investigatory learning experiences that help their audiences understand basic optics, how telescopes function, and the scientific processes that astronomers use to understand the cosmos.

Rick Fienberg has a B.A. in physics and an M.A. and Ph.D. in astronomy. While in graduate school, Rick discovered he enjoyed teaching and writing about astronomy more than doing research. So in 1986, just a year after finishing his doctorate, he became an assistant editor at Sky & Telescope, and within five years he was running the parent company, Sky Publishing. Rick now manages media relations for the American Astronomical Society. He has been a member of the ASP for over 30 years.

About the ASP

The ASP is a 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to use astronomy to increase the understanding and appreciation of science and to advance science and science literacy. The ASP connects scientists, educators, amateur astronomers and the public together to learn about astronomical research, improve astronomy education, and share resources that engage learners of all kinds in the excitement and adventure of scientific discovery. Current ASP programs and initiatives support college faculty, K-12 science teachers, amateur astronomy clubs, science museums, libraries, park rangers, and girl scouts to name a few.

Through its annual awards, ASP recognizes achievement in research, technology, education, and public outreach. The awards include the ASP’s highest honor, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal awarded since 1898 for a lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy. The Bruce Medal has gone to some of the greatest astronomers of the past century, including Arthur Eddington, Edwin P. Hubble, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, and Vera Rubin. The ASP also presents the Klumpke-Roberts Award for outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. Awardees include Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and the Hubble Heritage Project.