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7/25/12

Astronomer Receives Presidential Award, Searches For Faraway Planets

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Scott Gaudi, associate professor of astronomy at Ohio State University, has won the highest honor the United States Government bestows on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their careers.

President Obama named Gaudi a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) with the following citation:

For contributing towards our understanding of Earth’s place in the Universe through the study of the demographics of exoplanetary systems, and for reaching out to oft-overlooked underrepresented groups of children and students in the LGBTQ and HIV-positive communities.

gaudi
Scott Gaudi

He will receive the award at a White House ceremony later this fall.

“Discoveries in science and technology not only strengthen our economy, they inspire us as a people.” President Obama said in a statement. “The impressive accomplishments of today’s awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”

Gaudi is one of 96 researchers to receive a PECASE award this year, and one of 20 to have been nominated by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Every year, NSF nominates only the most meritorious winners of it's own early career award, the Faculty Early Career Development Program (CAREER), to receive this additional honor.

Since earning his Ph.D. in astronomy from Ohio State in 2000, Gaudi earned two prestigious postdoctoral fellowships. First, he was a Hubble Fellow and member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, then a Menzel Postdoctoral Fellow in the Theoretical Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2009, he won one of the highest honors given to young astronomers by the American Astronomical Society - the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy.

During that time, Gaudi has pioneered new methods for detecting planets in faraway solar systems, and moved to the forefront of worldwide planet-hunting collaborations, where he frequently coordinates the efforts of astronomers around the globe.

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“The impressive accomplishments of today’s awardees so early in their careers promise even greater advances in the years ahead.”


His $775,000, five-year CAREER grant will fund his efforts to "usher in the next phase of exoplanet science by constructing statistically robust samples of exoplanet demographics spanning a broad range of planet and host-star properties, which can then be used to test predictive theories of planet formation."

The grant will also enable him to design astronomy courses and public events to encourage young people to pursue a career in the field. He plans to teach a intersession course on planet hunting at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a public high school for gifted students, and reach out to local LGBTQ and HIV-impacted youth through engagement in astronomy-related activities.

The PECASE awards, established by President Clinton in 1996, are coordinated by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Awardees are selected for their pursuit of innovative research at the frontiers of science and technology and their commitment to community service as demonstrated through scientific leadership, public education, or community outreach.

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Contact: Scott Gaudi, (614) 292-1914; Gaudi.1@osu.edu


Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.1@osu.edu

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