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Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal


Nominations are now closed for the 2024 ASP Awards

Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal

Awarded since 1898 for a lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy

Established by Catherine Wolfe Bruce, an American philanthropist and patroness of astronomy, our highest award is given annually by the ASP to a professional astronomer in recognition of a lifetime of outstanding achievement and contributions to astrophysics research. The medal has gone to some of the greatest astronomers of the past century and was first awarded in 1898 to Simon Newcomb. Previous recipients of the Bruce Medal include Giovanni V. Schiaparelli (1902), Edwin Hubble (1938), Fred Hoyle (1970), and Vera Rubin (2003).

Dr. Marcia J. Rieke, Professor and Elizabeth Roemer Endowed Chair, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, to receive the 2023 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific

San Francisco, California – September 27, 2023 - The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) is proud to announce the 2023 recipient of its most prestigious award, the Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal, honoring Dr. Marcia J. Rieke, Regents Professor of Astronomy and Elizabeth Roemer Endowed Chair, Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona and Principal Investigator on the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) for the James Webb Space Telescope. Rieke's research has focused on infrared observations of the center of the Milky Way and high redshift galaxies in the early universe. Marcia Rieke is considered by many to be one of the "founding mothers of infrared astronomy,” and it is for her groundbreaking contributions to astronomical research at these wavelengths that she is being recognized and celebrated.  

Marcia Rieke spent her early years in Midland, Michigan, where she credits the presence of the headquarters of Dow Chemicals for bringing the excitement of science to her schools and sparking her own passion for learning more. Rieke ultimately received both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the University of Arizona as a postdoctoral fellow in 1976, where she ultimately remained and made her seminal contributions to infrared astronomy. 

Dr. Rieke served as Deputy Principal Investigator for the Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) on the Hubble Space Telescope and Co-Investigator for the multiband imaging photometer on the Spitzer Space Telescope. Dr. Rieke was also involved with several infrared ground-based observatories, including the Multiple Mirror Telescope Observatory in Arizona.  

Dr. Rieke’s leadership is credited for the success of JWST’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam). As one of her nominator’s stated, “The NIRCam was the JWST Program’s most challenging instrument development effort. The instrument’s outstanding performance is due largely to the outstanding performance of its PI. Marcia’s consistent focus, diligence, and ‘lead from the front’ approach under extremely difficult technical and programmatic circumstances presents an example for others to follow.”

Dr. Rieke has authored 310 refereed publications which have over 30,000 citations. Her deep knowledge and expertise were put into service as Vice Chair for Program Prioritization for the Astro 2010 Decadal Survey Committee’s "New Worlds, New Horizons.”  Her landmark contributions to astronomical research, instrument development, and service to public policy and public outreach have been recognized nationally, being elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007, a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in 2012, and a Legacy Fellow of the American Astronomical Society in 2020.  Dr. Rieke has also been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal (2023) for her contribution to the field of astronomy and key role in the development of cutting-edge instruments for the James Webb Space Telescope. 

Join us in celebration of Dr. Marcia Rieke’s achievements at the in-person ASP Awards Gala on Saturday, November 11, 2023 at the Grand Bay Hotel San Francisco in Redwood City, California.

  • Historian of astronomy Joseph S. Tenn has provided a history of the medal, with biographies and links to further information regarding all Bruce Medalists. This information resides on the Sonoma State University website.

Please contact our Awards team if you have questions about the nomination process.