For outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy
The ASP bestows the Klumpke-Roberts Award on those who have made outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. Awardees include Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Chesley Bonestell, Timothy Ferris, Walter Sullivan, Heidi Hammel, and the staffs of Sky & Telescope and Astronomy magazines.
2022 Klumpke-Roberts Award given to Suzanne Gurton, Director of Education and Public Outreach at National Radio Astronomy Observatory, for contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy
San Francisco, California- August 30, 2022 - Awarded to an individual or individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy, the Klumpke-Roberts Award for 2022 goes to Suzanne Gurton, Director of Education and Public Outreach at National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Her dedication to public outreach has spanned almost 40 years of leading, organizing, developing, and training educators for astronomy outreach programs that have become permanent fixtures in the outreach community, lasting long beyond her involvement.
Gurton’s leadership in the field of astronomy communication to the public began with her participation in the planetarium world, launching her passion to enhance the public’s understanding of astronomy. She participated in writing programs, giving lectures, and producing shows as well as coordinating the art and special effects used to illustrate the planetarium shows. At the same time, she initiated grant proposals and developed public exhibitions.
Her longtime work at the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is where she left a major imprint on signature programs such as Project ASTRO, Night Sky Network, and My Sky Tonight. It was Gurton’s work with the ASP’s Astronomy from the Ground Up program training park & field rangers that turned a small Lassen Dark Sky Festival into the premier summer event at Lassen Volcanic National Park in California. A former field ranger and nominator pays tribute that “This would not have been possible without Suzy’s dedication, commitment, and passion for sharing her appreciation and expertise for all things astronomical.” She didn’t just show off sunspots through a solar scope, but she stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to make sure every visitor had a chance to view the Ring Nebula through a telescope. “There is no one more dedicated to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy,” she emphasized.
There is no doubt Gurton’s style of public engagement is infectious, but it has also inspired young professionals. She spent years as lead educator training early career astronomers through yearly American Astronomical Society (AAS) Ambassadors Workshops. She is currently Co-Investigator with the National Science Foundation-funded On-the-Spot Assessment to Improve Scientist Engagement with the Public, developing tactics scientists can use to solicit feedback on their outreach work.
Her current work at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) leading the Education and Public Outreach (EPO), News and Public Information, multimedia, and Very Large Array (VLA) Visitor Center, has raised the Observatory’s public profile, fostering local community relations, and broadening participation and diversity in science and science education.
And most importantly, her work is careful to include people of all ages and backgrounds. A fellow nominator expresses this importance that “coming into the field when being a woman astronomer was a novelty, she is sensitive to meeting the needs of people who do not see others like them in the field.” Gurton’s passion has left an impactful and inspiring footprint on the field of astronomy education.
Join us in celebration of Suzy Gurton’s achievements at the in-person ASP Awards Gala on November 19, 2022 in Burlingame, California.
The Klumpke-Roberts will be awarded in 2022
Please contact the Awards team if you have questions about the nomination process