8 February 2024

HEAD Announces 2024 Award Winners

Megan Watzke
HEAD Press Officer

The High Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society has selected the winners for its top prizes for the upcoming year.

The HEAD Early Career Prize is awarded for a significant advance or accomplishment (observational or theoretical) in high-energy astrophysics by an individual astrophysicist within 10 years of receiving their PhD. This year’s award has been given to Yuanyuan Su (University of Kentucky) for “innovative contributions in understanding baryon physics in galaxy groups and clusters.”

"I’m thrilled and humbled to receive such a tremendous honor in recognition of my research on galaxy groups and clusters. There are ups and downs in my career but I always feel very lucky that what I do for a living is what I love,” said Su. “I’m deeply grateful to my mentors, colleagues, students, friends, and family for their support and inspiration. I look forward to continuing to explore the universe with so many brilliant and caring minds."

The HEAD Mid-Career Prize is awarded approximately every 18 months for a significant advance or accomplishment (observational or theoretical) in high-energy astrophysics by an individual astrophysicist within fifteen years of receiving their PhD. The 2024 Mid-Career award goes to Samaya Nissanke (University of Amsterdam) for “the development of novel techniques to extract fundamental physics from astronomical data, paving the way for the era of gravitational-wave multi-messenger astronomy.”

“I am extremely honored and humbled to receive this award and recognition, which I share with my wonderful collaborators, mentors, and past and present group members, as well as my family and friends,” said Nissanke. “I am incredibly grateful for their support and for the opportunity to work in this fascinating field of gravitational-wave multi-messenger astronomy. I am looking forward to future collaborations and work with inspiring individuals, and to contribute to the next endeavors in the field."

The HEAD Innovation Prize is awarded approximately every 18 months to recognize development of innovative, foundational, and/or revolutionary instrumentation or software tools that have led to groundbreaking results in high-energy astrophysics. The prize may be awarded to individuals or teams. The 2024 Innovation Prize has been given to Javier García (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center & Caltech), Thomas Dauser (University of Erlangen–Nuremberg), and Tim Kallman (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center) for “the development of novel models to describe emission in the strong gravity regime from accreting compact objects.”

"Receiving this award is a tremendous honor, and it is even more meaningful to share it with longtime mentors, collaborators, and friends. Our gratitude extends to the community for their invaluable feedback and unwavering trust in our work. This recognition serves as a powerful inspiration, propelling us to continue in developing models and tools that contribute to the exceptional scientific outcomes by our peers of the High Energy Astrophysics Division,” the three said in a joint statement.

The HEAD Distinguished Career Prize is awarded to recognize an individual high-energy astrophysicist who has made outstanding contributions to the field of high-energy astrophysics throughout their career. This year’s winner is Roger Chevalier (University of Virginia) for “pioneering work on a wide range of topics in the field of high-energy astrophysics, including the structure and evolution of supernova remnants, gamma ray bursts, pulsar winds, galactic winds, hydrodynamics, and shocks.”

“I have enjoyed working in this field with terrific collaborators and with a steady stream of exciting observational discoveries,” said Chevalier.

The final HEAD award of this season is the HEAD Dissertation Prize, which is awarded in recognition of an outstanding doctoral dissertation in high-energy astrophysics. Three finalists have been chosen and each will give presentations during the upcoming HEAD meeting, which is being held at Horseshoe Bay, Texas, 7-12 April 2024. The three finalists for the 2024 award are Milena Crnogorcevic for “New Messengers & New Physics: A Survey of the High-energy Universe,” Brenna Mockler for “Exploring Galactic Nuclei with Tidal Disruption Events,” and Tyler Parsotan for “Monte Carlo Radiation Transfer Simulations of Gamma Ray Burst Prompt Emission.” After the presentations, the Dissertation Prize winner will be announced at the end of the HEAD meeting.

More information about the HEAD, its leadership, prizes, and upcoming meetings can be found at http://head.aas.org/.

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