Awards & Accolades

Awards & Accolades

By University Communications
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Dimitrios Pslatis, EHT project scientist, and Feryal Ozel, lead of the modeling analysis working group, are two of several University of Arizona researchers who contributed to the Event Horizon Telescope project, which was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
Dimitrios Pslatis, EHT project scientist, and Feryal Ozel, lead of the modeling analysis working group, are two of several University of Arizona researchers who contributed to the Event Horizon Telescope project, which was awarded the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.
Jennifer McIntosh, University Distinguished Scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences
Jennifer McIntosh, University Distinguished Scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences
Alfred McEwen, Regents Professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the Department of Planetary Sciences
Alfred McEwen, Regents Professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the Department of Planetary Sciences
Erika Hamden, assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and assistant astronomer at Steward Observatory
Erika Hamden, assistant professor in the Department of Astronomy and assistant astronomer at Steward Observatory
Earyn McGee, graduate student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment
Earyn McGee, graduate student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment
Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, postdoctoral researcher in Steward Observatory
Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, postdoctoral researcher in Steward Observatory
Jessie Rack, program coordinator in the School of Geography and Development
Jessie Rack, program coordinator in the School of Geography and Development
Sheila M. Gephart, associate professor in the College of Nursing
Sheila M. Gephart, associate professor in the College of Nursing
Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, associate professor in the College of Nursing
Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, associate professor in the College of Nursing
Judith Su, assistant professor in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences
Judith Su, assistant professor in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences
Taben Hale, associate professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the College of Medicine – Phoenix
Taben Hale, associate professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the College of Medicine – Phoenix

Congratulations to these recent honorees.

Event Horizon Telescope Project Team Wins Breakthrough Prize for Black Hole Imaging

The Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, which included UA researchers and students, has been awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for taking the first-ever photo of a black hole. Awardees will be recognized on Nov. 3 in Mountain View, California.

The Breakthrough Prizes, known as the "Oscars of Science," recognize achievements in the life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics, "disciplines that ask the biggest questions and seek the deepest explanations," according to the Breakthrough Prize website. The award given to EHT comes with $3 million in prize money, which will be split equally among all of the co-authors, 21 from the UA, of six papers published on April 10 presenting the black hole image and the scientific interpretation of the measurements made from the data collected during the observations.

UA faculty members and others involved in the project include:

  • Dimitrios Psaltis, Professor of Astronomy, Astronomer at Steward Observatory and EHT Project Scientist
  • Feryal Ozel, Professor of Astronomy, Astronomer at Steward Observatory and Leader of the Modeling Analysis Working Group
  • Chi-kwan Chan, Assistant Astronomer and Leader of the Computations and Software Working Group
  • Dan Marrone, Associate Professor of Astronomy and Associate Astronomer at Steward Observatory
  • Buell T. Jannuzi, Professor and Head of the Department of Astronomy and Director of Steward Observatory
  • Lucy Ziurys, Regents Professor of Astronomy
  • Tod R. Lauer, UA Affiliate Astronomer

Read more about the EHT's Breakthrough Prize in this UANews article.

McIntosh, McEwen Recognized by Geological Society of America

Jennifer McIntosh, a University Distinguished Scholar and professor of hydrology and atmospheric sciences, has been elected a 2019 Geological Society of America Fellow. She was recognized at the organization's annual meeting in Phoenix last week.

The Geological Society of America is a membership organization that aims to advance geoscience research and discovery. The organization's fellowships recognize recipients' distinguished contributions to the geosciences.

McIntosh's nominator described her as a "recognized leader in the field of hydrogeochemistry. Her work has greatly advanced our knowledge of basin fluids (gas and water) and critical zone interactions. She has led multiple cross-disciplinary research teams, prepared her undergraduate and graduate students well, and performed outstanding service for our community."

McIntosh is a hydrogeochemist who works at the interface of hydrology, geochemistry and microbiology to understand processes throughout the Earth's crust.

Alfred McEwen, a Regents Professor in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory and the Department of Planetary Sciences, has been named the 2019 recipient of the G.K. Gilbert Award by the society's Planetary Division.

The G.K. Gilbert Award recognizes "outstanding contributions to the solution of fundamental problems in planetary geology in the broadest sense, which includes geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, geophysics, geologic mapping, and remote sensing."

McEwen's research interests include geologic processes. He is principal investigator of the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, known as HiRISE, an instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that takes images of the planet's recent craters.

Four From UA Selected as AAAS IF/THEN Ambassadors

Two UA employees, a postdoctoral researcher and a graduate student are among 125 women innovators selected as IF/THEN Ambassadors by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Ambassadors from the UA are:

  • Erika Hamden, Assistant Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Assistant Astronomer at Steward Observatory
  • Earyn McGee, a graduate student in the School of Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Burçin Mutlu-Pakdil, a postdoctoral researcher at Steward Observatory
  • Jessie Rack, Program Coordinator in the School of Geography and Development

AAAS is the largest multidisciplinary science society in the world, with members in more than 90 countries. Its IF/THEN Ambassadors program aims to advance women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math by highlighting successful professional female role models.

Hamden's research includes building telescopes and spectrographs primarily for observing hydrogen. Her April TED Talk – about building a balloon-mounted telescope that investigates how stars are created – has more than 1 million views.

McGee, a doctoral student, is focused on wildlife conservation and management. She was recognized earlier this year with a Peter W. Likins Inclusive Excellence Award.

Mutlu-Pakdil is an astrophysicist who studies the faintest galaxies in the universe. She gave a TED Talk in 2018 after discovering an especially rare double-ringed galaxy, which is now known as Burçin's galaxy.

Rack oversees the Supporting Environmental Education and Communities program, part of the UA Community and School Garden Program. She teaches environmental education classes to children in five schools across Tucson, with an emphasis on hands-on approaches, critical thinking skills and the scientific method.

Gephart, Taylor-Pilliae Selected as American Academy of Nursing Fellows

Sheila M. Gephart and Ruth E. Taylor-Piliae, both associate professors in the College of Nursing, have been selected as fellows of the American Academy of Nursing. They will be inducted in Washington, D.C., in late October.

The American Academy of Nursing "serves the public and the nursing profession by advancing health policy, practice and science through organizational excellence and effective nursing leadership," according to the academy's website.

Fellows are required to contribute time to the academy by engaging with other health leaders to find ways to enhance the quality of nursing, reduce health disparities and strengthen the nursing and health delivery system around the world, among other goals.

Gephart has been a nurse for 20 years and studies technical and parent-engaged solutions to reduce the burden of necrotizing enterocolitis, a disease that affects the intestines of premature infants. Taylor-Piliae's research seeks to increase physical activity among older adults with heart disease and stroke through activities such as tai chi to improve physical function, reduce fall rates and improve quality of life.

Su Named to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Board of Scientific Counselors

Judith Su, an assistant professor in the James C. Wyant College of Optical Sciences, has been named to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's Board of Scientific Counselors.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its Board of Scientific Counselors, a federal advisory committee, provides advice and guidance to the director of institute. It also provides knowledge on health research and prevention programs related to occupational health and safety.

Su began her appointment in August and will serve on the board until Dec. 31, 2022. Her research background involves imaging, microfabrication and optical instrument building for biological and medical applications. Su, a member of the BIO5 Institute, began at the UA in 2017.

Hale Among Arizona Capitol Times' Women Achievers of Arizona

Taben Hale, an associate professor in the Department of Basic Medical Sciences at the College of Medicine – Phoenix, has been included among the inaugural list of Women Achievers of Arizona by Arizona Capitol Times. Hale and her fellow honorees will be recognized at an event in Phoenix in October.

The newspaper's list includes 35 women from a variety of industries who "excel in their professions and work every day to advance their company, firm or community, and in doing so, make a difference in the lives of Arizonans."

Hale's research focuses include investigating novel therapeutic strategies for treating cardiovascular disease and sexual dysfunction in adults. She joined the UA in 2008.


We want to know about your good news. If you, your team or a colleague has won any major awards, been honored nationally or internationally, or accomplished some other major feat that deserves recognition, let us know about it.

To submit your news, please send us an email with the following information:

  • Name of the person, team or unit receiving the honor with full UA titles.
  • Information about the award/honor and the organization that granted it. Please include a link to the official announcement of the award/honor.
  • When the honor was announced and when it will be presented (or was presented).
  • A photo of the honoree. If others appear in the photo, please provide their names and identifying information, such as their UA title or other affiliation.

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