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Caltech scientists elected 2023 AAAS fellows – Pasadena Now

Lynne Hillenbrand, professor of astronomy at Caltech, and Anneila Sargent (PhD ’78), Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy Emeritus, have been named 2023 AAAS Fellows. In addition, Joseph Giaime, the head of the LIGO Livingston laboratory, which is managed by Caltech and MIT, has also been named a fellow. According to the AAAS, or American Association for the Advancement of Science, the fellows represent “a distinguished group of scientists, engineers and innovators recognized for their achievements in a variety of disciplines.”

Hillenbrand studies the evolution of young stars and planets. Some of her most notable discoveries include uncovering evidence for protoplanetary disks surrounding a type of young stellar object known as Herbig Ae/Be stars; determining the initial masses of stars in the Orion Nebula cluster; and studying the age ranges for both the stars and the planet-forming disks that orbit them. Her AAAS nomination is “for excellence in studying the youngest Sun-like stars and for significant contributions to the 2010 Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey.” (The Decadal Survey is an external evaluation that sets priorities for astronomy and astrophysics every ten years).

Hillenbrand received his PhD from the University of Massachusetts in 1995 and joined the Caltech faculty in 2000.

Sargent also studied the formation of stars and planets, specializing in millimeter and submillimeter observations. These observations have led, among other things, to new details about the structure and kinematics of the disks surrounding low-mass stars in their formation phase. Sargent has also held many leadership positions in astronomy, including as deputy director and later director of Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory from 1992 to 2007, vice president for student affairs at Caltech from 2007 to 2015, and president of the American Astronomical Society from 2000. to 2002. Sargent’s AAAS nomination is “for a distinguished career in research and leadership in infrared and millimeter wave astronomy, and for serving as president of the American Astronomical Society.”

Sargent, born in Scotland, received his PhD from Caltech in 1978. After various research positions at Caltech, she became a professor in 1998.

Giaime, a professor at Louisiana State University since 1999, directs one of two facilities – one in Livingston, Louisiana and one in Hanford, Washington – that are part of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. In 2015, LIGO made history by performing the first direct detection of gravitational waves in space. Giaime’s previous research focused on the design of laser interferometers and vibration isolation systems for interferometric gravitational wave detectors. Since 2006, he has led LIGO Livingston, which has now observed more than 100 powerful collisions between black holes (and some with neutron stars), sending gravitational waves streaming into space. His nomination is “for his contributions to gravitational wave physics, including his leadership of the LIGO Livingston Observatory.”

Giaime received his PhD from MIT in 1995.

Other Caltech alumni named 2023 AAAS fellows include Gary Aston-Jones (PhD ’81), Brandi Cossairt (BS ’06), Mayuresh Kothare (PhD ’97), Jeffrey Miner (PhD ’91), Jeff Morris (PhD ’96), Jennifer Normanly (PhD ’89), Kate Scholberg (PhD ’97), Frederick Sigworth (BS ’74), Adam Urbach (PhD ’02), Marianne Walck (PhD ’84), and Robert Waymouth ( PhD ’87). Former Caltech postdocs named fellows for 2023 include Maureen Barr (1995–2000), Louise Berben (2006–07), Guangbin Dong (2009–11), and Christine Grant (2007–08).

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