[Currents headergraphic]

June 1, 1998


The French Academy of Sciences has awarded the 1998 Grand Prix Andre Lallemand to Jerry Nelson and Steven Vogt, both professors of astronomy and astrophysics. The award, named after a French pioneer in the development of astronomical instruments, recognizes Nelson's role in designing the W. M. Keck Telescopes in Hawaii and Vogt's work on HIRES, one of the most important and successful instruments used at the Keck Observatory.

Nelson conceived and oversaw the design of the twin Keck I and Keck II Telescopes, the two largest telescopes in the world. Each telescope gathers light using a mosaic of 36 hexagonal mirrors, which create a single reflective surface 10 meters (33 feet) in diameter. Vogt's HIRES (High-Resolution Echelle Spectrograph) is one of the workhorses of the Keck Observatory, used by several dozen astronomers from various institutions as their primary instrument. Their findings have resulted in major contributions to cosmology and advances in understanding the origin of the universe. Nelson and Vogt plan to travel to Paris in November to receive their award.

Astronomer Dennis Zaritsky has received a 1998 Sloan Research Fellowship in physics from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The award provides an unrestricted grant of $35,000. Zaritsky, an assistant professor of astronomy and astrophysics and an assistant astronomer at UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, is one of 100 young scientists and economists awarded the fellowships this year.

The Sloan Research Fellowship Program was established in 1955 to provide crucial and flexible funds to outstanding young researchers early in their academic careers. This is the second major award Zaritsky has received this academic year. In September, he won a prestigious David and Lucile Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, worth $500,000.

Zaritsky's research addresses the evolution of galaxies and large-scale clusters of galaxies. The Sloan Research Fellowship will support his ongoing project to search for distant clusters of galaxies. Using a 40-inch telescope in Las Campanas, Chile, Zaritsky has imaged large swaths of the sky looking for "bumps" in the background light caused by clusters of very faint galaxies. He is currently analyzing the results of this survey and evaluating candidate clusters, using the 10-meter Keck Telescopes in Hawaii to obtain detailed measurements.

Kenneth Norris, professor emeritus of natural history, received the Mark Keys Marine Mammal Conservation and Education Award from the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM). Veterinarian Sam Ridgeway, a founding member and former president of the IAAAM, presented the award in a ceremony at Norris's home in Bonny Doon. Norris, one of the world's foremost authorities on whales and dolphins, designed the dolphin tanks at UCSC's Long Marine Laboratory. He has written several books on cetaceans, including Dolphin Days, which won the John Burroughs Medal in 1992. At the award ceremony, Norris noted that there was a profound linkage between the veterinary profession and researchers studying dolphins and other marine mammals. Ridgeway, senior scientist for animal care and research with the U.S. Navy, presented a videotape of the award ceremony at the annual meeting of the IAAAM May 2-5 in San Diego.

To the Currents home page

To UCSC's home page