AAS holds its 223rd Meeting

13 January 2014

AAS Meeting logoAIP participated heavily in the 223rd American Astronomical Society Meeting in National Harbor, MD, last week.

Space dogs and quantum fields: 2013 Science Communication Award winners honored at AAS press reception

On the evening of January 8, AIP hosted a press reception at the AAS meeting to celebrate the winners of the 2013 AIP Science Communication Awards: Tom Siegfried, for an essay on the discovery of the Higgs boson, and Jeffrey Bennett, for a children’s book about a dog’s imaginary trip to the Moon.

Each year, AIP partners with AIP Member Societies to present its writing awards. This is the third straight year in which at least one winner’s book or article has had an astronomy connection, and was therefore honored at the AAS meeting.

Jeffrey Bennett, Fred Dylla, Tom Siegfried, Jenny Lee, and Cathy O’Riordan.

AAS press officer Rick Fienberg welcomed about 40 journalists and press officers to the reception, and AIP CEO Fred Dylla presented the awards. Siegfried was given a certificate and cash prize for his essay “Nature’s Secrets Foretold,” published in Science News, which sought to provide a broader perspective for the recent discovery of the Higgs boson—a discovery that was honored last year with the Nobel Prize in Physics. Bennett also received a certificate and prize for his children’s book Max Goes to the Moon, which tells the story of a dog (Max) and a young girl who join in the first human trip to the Moon since the Apollo era. In addition to the cash prize and certificate, each winner will receive an engraved Windsor chair.

AIP Vice President Cathy O’Riordan and News and Media Services’ Jason Bardi and Jenny Lee interacted with the reporters and press officers who represented publications and institutions across the country and around the world. Bennett, who has a PhD in Astronomy and is the author of several other children’s books, popular science books, and textbooks, generously provided copies of his works and signed them for grateful attendees. At the end of the event, Lee announced that AIP is accepting nominations for the 2014 Science Communication Awards through February 28.

For more information about the 2013 winners of the AIP Science Communication Awards, see the press release.

Heineman and Gemant lectures

The AAS meeting also afforded the opportunity for several prize lectures, including two affiliated with AIP. Rachel Somerville of Rutgers University presented her Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics lecture, “The Formation of Galaxies & Supermassive Black Holes: Insights & Puzzles;” and Edwin Krupp of Griffith Observatory gave his AIP Gemant Award lecture, “Star Trek: The Search for the First Alleged Crab Supernova Rock Art.”

Connecting with students

Kendra Redmond at AASThe Society of Physics Students staffed a booth at the Undergraduate Orientation, where they were able to connect with current and prospective members of SPS, AAS leadership, and faculty members. SPS supported six students at the AAS meeting, three through its travel grants and three as SPS reporters.

On Tuesday evening, the traditional SPS Evening of Undergraduate Science took place. About 75 students attended, and about 20 presented posters. Guest speaker Kathryn Flanagan, deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, talked to the students about her experiences as a space scientist and as an administrator. A few students also gave impromptu informal presentations, expressing their eagerness and enthusiasm to present their science and become part of the science community.

Connecting with readers

Student group at AASPhysics Today (PT) hosted a booth on the exhibit floor, and PT marketing manager Jeff Bebee surveyed attendees about their reading preferences and how they value Physics Today. Also at the booth, staff members Paul Guinnessy and Greg Stasiewicz took the opportunity to observe how AAS members navigated the new Physics Today website.

Check back to the AAS website for more information about the exciting science presented during the meeting.