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2005 ASP Annual Award Recipients

Robert J. Trumpler Award
Jennifer Scott
Ph.D. granted by University of Arizona, Department of Astronomy (now at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, USA)

The Trumpler award is shared this year by two promising young astronomers, Jennifer Scott and Siming Liu. Jennifer Scott received her Ph.D. degree from the University of Arizona in July 2002. As part of her thesis work, Scott analyzed a large sample of moderate-resolution QSO absorption spectra to study the Lyman alpha forest at different redshifts. This work produced a better understanding of the “proximity effect”—a decline in absorption near the quasar itself. Measuring this radiation field has helped to constrain the sources of the background, quasars or star formation in young galaxies. It is also key to understanding the thermal and ionization history of the intergalactic medium, which has direct implications on the formation and evolution of galaxies.

The reionization history of the Universe, including the question of whether stars or quasars are sources of ionizing ultraviolet radiation, is an active area of current research in cosmology. Scott collected data for this analysis from the MMT, Magellan, and Bok telescopes, and supplemented these observations with archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope. Her thesis represents an unusually comprehensive work involving new observations, data reduction and analysis, the use of different telescopes and spectral ranges, control of errors and systematics, and theoretical modeling and interpretation. The three papers that Scott published as a result of this work have made a strong impact: they stand as definitive results that established her as an expert in the evolution of the ultraviolet background and ionization of the intergalactic medium at low redshift.

Scott is currently a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center where her research efforts concentrate on active galactic nuclei and the intergalactic medium using the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer, the Hubble Space Telescope, and Chandra X-ray Observatory.