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2020 LAD Laboratory Astrophysics Prize Goes to James Truran

Press Release From: University of Georgia
Posted: Friday, January 17, 2020

The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is awarding its 2020 Laboratory Astrophysics Prize to Dr. James Truran of the University of Chicago. This prize is given for his theoretical work on early star formation and the nucleosynthesis history of the universe, as well as for his seminal contributions to the study of astrophysical thermonuclear explosions, nucleosynthesis, and the use of nuclear-decay chronometers to determine ages of stellar and terrestrial matter.

The Laboratory Astrophysics Prize, LAD’s highest honor, is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to laboratory astrophysics over an extended period of time. For decades Professor Truran has been a leading figure in theoretical nuclear astrophysics, beginning with his doctoral thesis work on nuclear reaction rates and the early studies of supernova nucleosynthesis that incorporated it. These results led to the prediction that nucleosynthesis in Type Ia supernovae would produce large enough amounts of 56Ni to power most of the supernova light curve through subsequent radioactive decays. This early work laid the foundation for the use of Type Ia supernovae as standard candles, one of the most important tools of modern cosmology. Dr. Truran went on to carry out important studies of the s-process in stars, carbon-detonation models of Type Ia’s, the r-process in low metallicity stars, and galactic chemical evolution. More recently, Dr. Truran was instrumental in the development of the FLASH simulation code and its application to thermonuclear supernovae.

Truran received his PhD in physics from Yale University under the supervision of Professor A. G. W. Cameron. Truran is an author on 587 publications with close to 16,000 citations. Other honors include the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung Senior US Scientist Award, the Yale Science and Engineering Association Annual Award for the Advancement of Basic and Applied Science, and co-recipient of the Carl Sagan Memorial Award. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Physical Society. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Center for Physics and as its Vice-President (1985-1988). Prior to coming to the University of Chicago, Professor Truran was a research physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, a research fellow at the California Institute of Technology, and a professor of astronomy at the University of Illinois.

The LAD Laboratory Astrophysics Prize includes a cash award, a framed certificate, and an invited lecture at a meeting of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division.

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