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AAAS, NASA Announce 2012 Fellows
Dr. Eli Dwek and Dr. Neil Gehrels of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Dr. Lynn Cominsky of NASA's Fermi and Swift missions have been named as fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The election of an AAAS fellow is an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers.

New fellows will be presented with an official certificate and a gold and blue (representing science and engineering, respectively) rosette pin on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 8 to 10 a.m. EST at the AAAS Fellows Forum during the 2013 AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston, Mass. This year 701 members have been awarded this honor by AAAS because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.

Eli Dwek

Eli Dwek
Credit: NASA/Susan Kassin

Eli Dwek, an astrophysicist at NASA Goddard, will receive this award for his distinguished contributions to the theory of the evolution and nature of interstellar dust grains, including formation and destruction, emission and absorption of light, and unified models of observations.

Dwek has worked as an astrophysicist at Goddard since 1983. He received his doctorate in space physics and astronomy from Rice University in Houston, Texas. His thesis was "Nucleosynthesis of Light Elements in Young Supernova Remnants Surrounding Pulsars." He worked as a postdoctoral research fellow at Caltech in Pasadena, Calif., from 1977-1979. He also served as a research fellow as a part of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Maryland, College Park, from 1979-1981. He first came to Goddard as a National Research Council resident research associate with the National Academy of Sciences. Dwek was also a member of the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) science team. Their discoveries of the shape and anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background and the detection of the cosmic infrared background earned the team members the Peter Gruber Foundation's 2006 Cosmology Prize.

Neil Gehrels

Neil Gehrels
Credit: NASA/Goddard

Neil Gehrels, an astrophysicist at Goddard, will receive this award for his leadership on the Swift, Compton, Fermi and future dark energy missions.

Gehrels is principal investigator for the Swift gamma-ray burst MIDEX mission and chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory. He served as the project scientist for the Compton Observatory from 1991-2000, a deputy project scientist for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, project scientist for the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope and member of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Waver Observatory Scientific Collaboration.

Lynn R. Cominsky of Sonoma State University, will receive this award for her work in outreach for X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy and for her inspiration to undergraduate students at Sonoma State. She has been on the faculty of SSU’s Physics and Astronomy Department since 1986, and has chaired the department since 2004.

Lynn Cominsky

Lynn Cominsky
Credit: Lynn Cominsky

Cominsky is an astrophysicist and is also the education and public outreach lead for NASA’s Swift gamma-ray burst mission, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) focusing hard x-ray mission, and the U.S. portion of the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton mission. She is also a scientific co-investigator on Swift, Fermi and NuSTAR, and serves as the press officer for Swift and Fermi. In these positions, she often interprets astronomical discoveries for the public. Cominsky’s NASA-funded education and public outreach group uses the excitement of high-energy space science to train teachers, inspire and engage students, and increase the scientific literacy of the general public.

The AAAS was founded in 1848, and includes 261 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. The tradition of AAAS fellows began in 1874. Currently, members can be considered for the rank of fellow if nominated by the steering groups of the Association’s 24 sections, or by any three fellows who are current AAAS members or by the AAAS chief executive officer.

For more information about the AAAS, visit:
Laura Betz
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.