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UH astronomy director wins prize


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POSTED: Monday, March 02, 2009

Rolf-Peter Kudritzki, director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, has been named for the highest award given to an astronomer in Germany.

; The astrophysicist will receive the prestigious Karl Schwarzschild Prize for 2009 at the annual meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft (German Astronomical Society) Sept. 22 in Potsdam, Germany.

He said in a news release he was “;both surprised and pleased to receive this honor. Usually, it is given to a non-German astronomer.”;

Kudritzki will give the Karl Schwarzschild Lecture as the prize recipient, explaining how studying bright stars in distant galaxies can help astronomers understand the chemical composition of the galaxies and their distance from Earth.

His lecture is related to the title of the conference, “;Deciphering the Universe Through Spectroscopy.”; It will be published in the journal Astronomical Notes and in Reviews of Modern Astronomy.

Kudritzki also will give a public lecture Sept. 24 in Berlin on “;Killer Asteroids, Supernovae and the Dark Side of the Universe.”;

His subject is related to the UH Pan-STARRS project to look for near-Earth asteroids and other threatening space objects. The prototype telescope is on Haleakala, Maui.

Gary Ostrander, UH-Manoa vice chancellor for research and graduate education, said, “;This is a significant and well-deserved honor that signifies the high regard of the scientific community for Dr. Kudritzki's accomplishment. We are particularly pleased that he is both member of and director of our Institute for Astronomy.”;

Kudritzki became director of the IFA in 2000 and was UH interim vice chancellor for research and graduate education from January 2003 to December 2004.

He was previously an astronomy professor and director of the Munich University Observatory.

He is a member of the German Academy of Sciences and was designated a highly cited author of the Science Citation Index in 2006. His research ranges from stellar spectroscopy to extragalactic stellar astronomy. He is a member of many national and international science and astronomy groups.

Other recipients of the Karl Schwarzschild Prize include Nobel Prize winners Riccardo Giacconi, Joseph H. Taylor, Charles H. Townes and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar.