Astronomer Wins a Women in Space Science Award

Yale astronomer C. Megan Urry has won the annual Women in Space Science Award, given by the Women’s Board of the Adler Planetarium to “an outstanding woman in space science who exemplifies the characteristics that lead to success academically and in the work force.”

Urry, the Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, and chair of the physics department, focuses her research on galaxies with extremely luminous cores fueled by supermassive black holes at their centers. Using observations at radio, X-ray and gamma-ray wavelengths, she works to understand how these black holes and their host galaxies co-evolve over time.

Urry was honored May 19 at a celebration at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, where she gave the keynote address. She also spoke earlier in the afternoon to 200 middle-school girls from Chicago as part of the program.

“I am very honored and grateful to the Adler for this recognition of my research in space science,” Urry says. “I am particularly pleased to be able to serve as a role model for the middle-school girls.”

The Adler Women’s Board aims to inspire young women to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math — a goal shared by Urry. She sits on the steering committee of the Yale Women Faculty Forum; chaired the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy for the American Astronomical Society; headed the U.S. delegation to the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics meeting on Women in Physics in Paris, France; has organized three national meetings on women in astronomy; and has hosted three annual conferences for undergraduate women in physics at Yale.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Urry has served on several committees of the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council.

Past recipients of the Women in Space Science Award include Vera Rubin, an astronomer whose work on the motion of galaxies led to the discovery of dark matter; Heidi Hammel, a noted planetary astron­omer; and former NASA astronauts Joan Higginbotham, Eileen Collins and Kathy Sullivan.

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