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CEHW Professor Dawson honored with Urey Prize

CEHW Professor Dawson honored with Urey Prize

The Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society is pleased to award the 2020 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by an early career scientist to CEHW Professor Rebekah Dawson in recognition of her groundbreaking research on planetary dynamics, the formation of planetary systems, and the characterization of exoplanets on close-in orbits. Her work combines a deep understanding of planetary dynamics, innovative statistical analysis of astronomical data, and keen insight into emerging trends to yield breakthrough science in both our own solar system and exoplanetary systems.

Rebekah has sorted out complex phenomenology with elegant and precise theoretical work, which has both clarified the interpretation of puzzling observational results and pointed the way toward tests of the models with future observations. An example of this is her early work on understanding radial-velocity data for multiplanet systems, where she re-analyzed archival data for planet 55 Cancri e and discovered previous misinterpretations; in doing so she paved a path for future observations to correctly characterize both this exoplanet and others. Throughout her varied projects that typically connect theory to observations, Rebekah has incorporated advanced statistical methods while keeping the focus on important scientific questions, setting an example for successful incorporation of new techniques in the field.

Rebekah has been invited to produce several reviews, including a synthesis of Kepler results and a comprehensive analysis of the formation of hot Jupiters. Her review paper on hot Jupiters is a milestone in that it synthesizes, interprets, and forecasts the state of the field for a wide range of researchers studying these enigmatic objects. She also exemplifies scientific leadership in her organization of prominent conferences and involvement in planning future NASA missions such as the Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Telescope (LUVOIR).

In summary, Rebekah Dawson has examined both new and long-standing scientific problems and through interdisciplinary and systematic analysis has changed the field’s view of several important concepts. The DPS is proud to award the 2020 Urey Prize to Rebekah Dawson.


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