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2019 Jansky Lectureship Awarded to Caltech Professor


Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) have awarded the 2019 Karl G. Jansky Lectureship to Dr. Anneila Sargent, Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). The Jansky Lectureship is an honor established by the trustees of AUI to recognize outstanding contributions to the advancement of radio astronomy.

Professor Sargent is being honored for her pioneering, and continuing, studies of young stars and the dusty disks that surround them — disks from which planets form. In addition, she has been a leader in the astronomical community, serving on important boards and committees and in offices for scientific organizations, while also helping shape the careers of younger astronomers and standing out as an inspiring role model for female scientists.

A member of the U.S. National Science Board and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Sargent is a past president of the American Astronomical Society. She chaired the NASA Space Science Advisory Committee and the U.S. National Research Council Board of Physics and Astronomy, and served on the U.K. Science and Technology Facilities Council.

A native of Scotland, Sargent earned her B.Sc. at the University of Edinburgh and her Ph.D. from Caltech, where she has spent her career. She was Caltech’s Vice President for Student Affairs from 2007 to 2015.

She has led in the development of important radio observatories, serving as director of Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory, and as founding director of the Combined Array for Millimeter-wave Astronomy, the U.S. precursor to the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). She served on the ALMA board for a decade and chaired it twice.

As Jansky Lecturer, Sargent will give lectures at NRAO facilities in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Socorro, New Mexico. These lectures are open to the public.

First awarded in 1966, the Jansky Lectureship is named in honor of the man who, in 1932, first detected radio waves from a cosmic source. Karl Jansky’s discovery of radio waves from the central region of the Milky Way started the science of radio astronomy.

Other recipients of the Jansky award include seven Nobel laureates (Drs. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Edward Purcell, Charles Townes, Arno Penzias, Robert Wilson, William Fowler, and Joseph Taylor) as well as Jocelyn Bell-Burnell, discoverer of the first pulsar, and Vera Rubin, discoverer of dark matter in galaxies.

A complete list of past recipients is here.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.