ann17024 — Announcement

The first recipients of the IAU’s new PhD prize
12 June 2017
First IAU PhD Prize Winners Announced

Last year the IAU announced the creation of a new award, the IAU PhD Prize, to recognise outstanding scientific achievement in astronomy by PhD students around the world. In fact it is a series of awards, as each of the IAU’s nine Divisions [1] selects a winner in its own field of astronomy.

At the 99th Meeting of the IAU Executive Committee the first winners of the IAU PhD Prize, for the 2016 year, were selected. They are:

Division A: none (no valid candidates)

Division B: Adrian Sven Hamers, Leiden University, the Netherlands, Hierarchical systems

Division C: none (no candidates)

Division D: Eric Robert Coughlin, University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA, The Evolutionary Pathways of Tidal Disruption Events: from Stars to Debris Streams, Accretion Disks, and Relativistic Jets

Division E: Shinsuke Takasao, Kyoto University, Japan, Fundamental Magnetohydrodynamic Processes of Solar Flares: Formation of Flare-productive Regions and Evolution of Flare Loops

Division F (ex-aequo): Laura Kreidberg, University of Chicago, IL, USA, Glimpses of Faraway Places: Intensive Atmosphere Characterization of Extrasolar Planets; and Caroline Morley,  University of California, CA, USA, Exo-Planetary atmospheres Clouds and Hazes in Exoplanet and Brown Dwarf Atmospheres

Division G: Morgan MacLeod, University of California, Santa Cruz, CA, USA, Social Stars: Modeling the Interactive Lives of Stars in Dense Clusters and Binary Systems in the Era of Time Domain Astronomy

Division H: Long Wang, Peking University, Beijing, China, The dynamical evolution of globular clusters

Division J: Fabio Pacucci, Scuola Normale di Pisa, Italy, The First Black Holes in the Cosmic Dark Ages

Additional Prize for candidates from developing countries:

Division H: Yang Huang, Peking University, Beijing China, Stellar parameter determinations, and chemical and kinematical properties of the Milky Way based on the LAMOST Spectroscopic Survey of the Galactic Anti-Center

35 candidates submitted their PhD theses by the 15 December deadline and most of them were judged excellent by the evaluation panel of the relevant Division, making the selection particularly hard. In one case (Division F), there was a clear tie and the two winners will share the prize.

Each recipient receives airfare, registration fee and accommodation to attend the next IAU General Assembly, to be held between 20 and 31 August 2018 in Vienna, Austria, where their certificates will be awarded. The winners will also have the opportunity to present their research work in one of the sessions of the General Assembly.

The IAU congratulates all these winners, wishes them every success in their future careers, and looks forward to another crop of high-quality applications for next year’s award. The 2017 round is open for submissions until 15 December; the next set of winners will be announced in spring 2018 so they will also have the opportunity to attend the General Assembly in Vienna.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.

Candidates for the IAU PhD Prize were required to submit, among other items, an abstract of their thesis that is suitable for public consumption, a 1500-word thesis summary, three letters of recommendation (including one from the PhD advisor) and a CV. The winner of each Division was decided by the Division’s own standards and methods — guided by the Division Steering Committee.

The IAU PhD Prize is open to candidates from any country, regardless of whether the country has an IAU National Membership. On top of this, a separate prize is available to be awarded to applicants from developing countries (defined as those not in the OECD). The deadline for all applications is 15 December every year, to include all applications since the previous year’s deadline.


[1] The IAU’s nine Divisions are as follows:



Piero Benvenuti
General Secretary, International Astronomical Union
Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 25 83 58

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

About the Announcement



The first recipients of the IAU’s new PhD prize