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PN05/48: RAS Announces Astronomy Award Winners for 2006

Last Updated on Monday, 12 April 2010 15:12
Published on Friday, 09 December 2005 00:00
gold-m.gifThe Royal Astronomical Society has announced the names of the astronomers to be honoured in its 2006 awards.  The top award, the Gold Medal, goes to Professor Simon White for his work in developing a model for describing the universe known as the ‘LambdaCDM’ model: Cold Dark Matter with a cosmological constant. 

The LambdaCDM model, which began as a speculative idea in the early 1980s, has now achieved the status of a standard model and is recognised as one of the great achievements in astronomy in the past 25 years.  Professor White, currently Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching, made a key contribution by developing computer simulations using ‘N-body calculations’ to show how particles interact and form the structure of the universe. This work has recently culminated in the ‘Millennium Simulation’, which described the progress of more than 10 billion particles of matter in evolving structures in a 2-billion light-year cubic volume of the universe.

The Herschel Medal goes to Professor Govind Swarup, the ‘father’ of Indian radio astronomy, who founded the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics at Pune. Best known for his role in establishing the Ooty Radio Telescope and the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope near Pune, Professor Swarup is currently working on observing galaxies in the very early Universe and he is an important mover in the international Square Kilometre Array project.

The Jackson-Gwilt medal is awarded to Dr Keith Taylor for the pivotal role he has played in developing world-class instrumental facilities for UK astronomers. The instruments he has built and commissioned have inspired a new generation of observers and have been responsible for major discoveries in optical astronomy.  Dr Taylor, who is now at CalTech after a distinguished career at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and the Anglo-Australian Observatory, is best known for his role in the Two-degree Field (2dF) project, first as project scientist and later as project manager.  The 2dF project has identified the redshift values for over 250,000 galaxies and 20,000 quasars.

The Fowler Award for Astronomy goes to Dr Serena Viti of University College London.  This award is made to individuals who have made a particularly noteworthy contribution to the astronomical sciences at an early stage of their research career.  Dr Viti, a former Council member of the RAS, has an active involvement with the forthcoming Herschel Space Observatory, a European Space Agency mission to observe the universe in infrared and submillimetre wavelengths.  She has also conducted a number of outreach activities, most notably her RAS-supported “Stars ‘R’ Us” exhibit at the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.  

Associateships of the Royal Astronomical Society honour eminent people in astronomy who are not normally resident in the UK. The candidates for Associateships this year are:

Professor Ewine van Dishoeck (University of Leiden)
Dr Françoise Genova (Director of the Centre de Données Astronomiques de Strasbourg)
Professor James Liebert (University of Arizona)