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2024 ASP Awards to be announced in August

Robert J. Trumpler Award

For a recent PhD thesis considered unusually important to astronomy

The Robert J. Trumpler Award is given each year to a recent recipient of the PhD degree in North America whose research is considered unusually important to astronomy.

The recipient of the 2023 Robert J. Trumpler is Dr. Deborah Lokhorst who completed her doctorate in astronomy from the University of Toronto in 2022

San Francisco, California – September 27, 2023 - Presented to a recent recipient of a PhD degree whose research is considered unusually important to astronomy, the 2023 Robert J. Trumpler Award is presented to Dr. Deborah Lokhorst, who received her doctorate in astronomy from the University of Toronto.  

One nominator described Dr. Lokhorst as “an intellectually brilliant, extraordinarily capable scientist and a rising star in astrophysics.” Another described her dissertation as “a landmark study, ushering in a new era of extremely sensitive ionized gas studies.”  Her dissertation, “Ultra-Narrowband Imaging with the Dragonfly Telephoto Array: Toward the Cosmic Web,” is a rare thesis that combines theory, observation, and instrumentation. In her thesis, Lokhorst describes the conception, design, fabrication, and use of an innovative new imaging device for the Dragonfly telescope – an array of lenses working in tandem like the compound eye of a dragonfly – to detect extraordinarily dim astronomical objects.  

Lokhorst analyzed hydrodynamical simulations to calculate the observational limits needed to directly detect “invisible” gas in the medium surrounding nearby galaxies. Next, she designed, machined, and assembled a prototype for a new component of the Dragonfly Telephoto Array that could detect these gases at the observational limit.  Named “the Filter-Tilter,” Lokhorst’s invention helped Dragonfly’s narrowband imager reveal what had been undetectable before – a giant ionized gas cloud surrounding the starburst galaxy, M82.  

Lokhorst’s dissertation has also been recognized by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and the Canadian Astronomical Society who jointly presented her with their J.S. Plaskett Medal for most outstanding astrophysics doctoral thesis in Canada. She is currently a Herzberg Instrument Science Fellow at the Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Centre.  Expanding upon her work on the Dragonfly Telescopic Array, she is now project and science lead for the Dragonfly Spectral Line Mapper with the goal of directly imaging the faintest and largest structures in the Universe.  She is also committed to education and is involved in the construction of a smaller version of Dragonfly that can be used by high school students and astronomy clubs. 

Join us in celebration of Dr. Deborah Lokhorst’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.

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