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AAS Names New NASA-Affiliated Fellows, Legacy Fellows

Thirteen scientists working at or affiliated with NASA have been recently named Fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), the major organization of professional astronomers in North America.

AAS established the Fellows program in 2019 to honor members for their contributions to its mission of enhancing and sharing humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe. Being named a fellow honors scientists for enhancing and sharing humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe through personal achievement and extraordinary service to the astronomical sciences and to the AAS. Many AAS fellows use NASA missions like the Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory.

The new NASA-affiliated fellows are:

John Grunsfeld is a physicist and a former NASA astronaut. He is a veteran of five space shuttle flights and has served as the agency’s chief scientist and associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Heidi Hammel is a planetary astronomer and vice president of AURA Inc. in Washington — a non-profit consortium of universities and institutions that manages and operates astronomical facilities. She is an interdisciplinary scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope and vice president of The Planetary Society’s board of directors.

Mark Marley is a research scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, California. His research primarily focuses on the atmospheres of extrasolar giant planets and brown dwarfs.

Matt Mountain is president of AURA Inc. He is also a Webb telescope scientist, and former director of the Space Telescope Science Institute — the science operations center for the Hubble and Webb telescopes — located on Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus in Baltimore.

Richard Mushotzky is a professor of astronomy at the University of Maryland in College Park and a former scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. His research interests include X-ray and multiwavelength imaging, timing, and spectroscopy focusing on the physics of black hole accretion, evolution of the elements, and cosmology.

Rita Sambruna is an astrophysicist and the deputy director of the Astrophysics Science Division at NASA Goddard. Her research interests include relativistic jets, the physics of compact objects, and supermassive black holes in galaxies. Before coming to Goddard, Rita was at NASA Headquarters where she led the Astrophysics Decadal studies and other Programs.

Hal Weaver is the project scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland, and a research professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Johns Hopkins University. Weaver is known for his research into the composition of solar system bodies including comets and Kuiper belt objects.

Belinda Wilkes is a senior astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and former director of its Chandra X-ray Center, which controls science and flight operations for NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. Her science interests are X-ray and multi-wavelength studies of quasars and active galactic nuclei.

Additional Legacy Fellows

The AAS Board of Trustees in 2020 designated an initial group of more than 200 Legacy Fellows. These include past recipients of certain awards from the AAS or its topical divisions, distinguished AAS elected leaders and volunteer committee members, and previously unrecognized individuals with long histories of outstanding research, teaching, mentoring, and service.

In 2021, AAS added nine legacy fellows to the initial list. The additional legacy fellows affiliated with NASA are:

David Morrison is a planetary scientist and one of the founders of the field of astrobiology. Morrison is the former director of the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute. He served in senior management positions at Ames. His primary professional interests are astrobiology, space exploration, science administration, strengthening science education, and communicating the excitement of scientific discovery to the public.

Eugene Parker is the S. Chandrasekhar distinguished service professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Parker is widely known for his pioneering research on the Sun, which reshaped scientists’ understanding of stars and their surroundings. NASA named its Parker Solar Probe in his honor, marking the first time the agency named a spacecraft after a living person. 

Harvey Tananbaum is a senior astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the founding director of its Chandra X-ray Center. Tananbaum co-led the team that proposed to NASA to initiate the study and design of a long-lived X-ray telescope that launched in 1999 as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory.

Martin Weisskopf is the chief scientist for X-ray astronomy at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He is the agency’s project scientist for Chandra and principal investigator of the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer mission. Weisskopf is a leading expert in experimental techniques for X-ray polarization measurements of astronomical objects.

Erick Young is an astronomer with the Universities Space Research Association in Columbia, Maryland and former director of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Science Center, managed at Ames.