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Royal Astronomical Society honors stars of astronomy and geophysics

Katie Cowart

The Royal Astronomical Society has announced the winners of its medals and prizes, awarded to scientists around the world for significant achievement in the fields of astronomy and geophysics. University of Georgia Assistant Professor Cassandra Hall has received the Winton Capital Award for astronomy for 2020. 

There are two Winton awards per year, one each in astronomy and geophysics and they are funded by the Winton Capital Investment House in recognition of the skills provided to the financial services sector by trained scientists. These awards are for research by early career Postdoctoral researchers in a UK institution in astronomy or geophysics within five years of earning their doctorate degree. 

“Receiving this award is a huge honor, and I am absolutely delighted,” said Hall. “The Winton Capital Award is a fantastic start to my career at the University of Georgia, and I am looking forward to many years of success here.”

Hall’s research interests are based around the site of exoplanet formation, which are protoplanetary discs, a rotating circumstellar disc of dense gas and dust surrounding a young newly formed star. She is primarily a computational astrophysicist, working in both the theoretical and observational domain. This work is vital to correctly interpreting observations of planet formation. 

Hall completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Sheffield in 2013 and earned her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in 2017. She became one of two women in the inaugural class of Winton Exoplanet Fellows, a program that recognizes accomplished scientists in the early stage of their career and provides them with the opportunity to conduct independent research that could establish them as future leaders in their field. She relocated to the USA in 2020 to accept a position at UGA.

"We are extremely excited to learn that Dr. Hall has received the Winton Award from the UK's Royal Astronomical Society," said Phillip Stancil, professor and head of the department of physics and astronomy. "The award recognizes Dr. Hall's ground-breaking computational studies of the evolution of planetary systems, performed while she was a postdoctoral associate at the University of Leicester. After just three short months at UGA, Dr. Hall is already building an outstanding research group which will elevate UGA's reputation in computational astrophysics, leading to improved understanding of how planets form."

Awards also recognize outstanding contributions in public engagement, and service to the astronomy and geophysics communities. The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in July.

“I’m delighted that we can recognize the wealth of talent in astronomy and geophysics through our prestigious awards and medals,” said Royal Astronomical Society President Professor Emma Bunce. “In the midst of a challenging time, we should not lose sight of the achievements of the stars of our science community, inspiring us by answering the deep questions about the Earth beneath our feet and the Universe around us. My congratulations to all the winners!”

See the complete list of medals and awards.

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