Press Release

High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society Announces 2021 Award Winners

By SpaceRef Editor
January 28, 2021
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The High-Energy Astrophysics Division (HEAD) of the American Astronomical Society has selected the winners for its top prizes for the upcoming year.

The 2021 Bruno Rossi Prize has been awarded to Francis Halzen of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the IceCube Collaboration for “for the discovery of a high-energy neutrino flux of astrophysical origin.” The IceCube Neutrino Observatory is the first detector of its kind, designed to observe the cosmos from deep within the South Pole ice. An international group of scientists responsible for the scientific research makes up the IceCube Collaboration.

“This award of the Bruno Rossi Prize is very special because it recognizes IceCube as the collaborative effort that it is,” said Halzen. “We appreciate this recognition of our scientific contributions by the astronomy community, which strengthens our resolve to continue the development of IceCube as an optimal tool for multimessenger astronomy.”

HEAD awards the Rossi Prize for a significant contribution to high-energy astrophysics, with particular emphasis on recent, original work. The prize is in honor of Professor Bruno Rossi, an authority on cosmic ray physics and a pioneer in the field of X-ray astronomy. The prize includes an engraved certificate and a $1,500 award. Halzen will give a lecture at the AAS meeting in January 2022.

The 2021 HEAD Mid-Career prize, which recognizes a significant advance or accomplishment (observational or theoretical) in high-energy astrophysics by an individual astrophysicist within fifteen years of receiving their PhD, will go to Anna Watts of the University of Amsterdam. She was selected for “for her trailblazing work in the understanding of neutron star fluid dynamics, and developing and applying rigorous inference to obtain observational constraints on dense matter.”

“I’m incredibly honored! For a mid-career award, it’s not just down to you but your team as well, and I’ve been beyond lucky with the junior researchers in my group,” said Watts. “So this is for them too — they’re all awesome!”

Renee Ludlam has been chosen for this year’s HEAD Dissertation Prize, which acknowledges an outstanding new PhD dissertation in high-energy astrophysics. Ludlam received her PhD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and she is currently a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

“I am incredibly honored to receive this award, as well as grateful for my collaborators and those that have supported me over the years,” said Ludlam. “I’m excited for what the future holds in furthering our understanding of neutron stars and accretion physics.”

Dr. Richard Kelley of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center was selected to receive the HEAD Innovation Prize “for his unflagging effort to make the transformational capabilities of the X-ray microcalorimeter available to the high energy astrophysics community.”

“I am very surprised and extremely honored to be the representative for this distinction highlighting the tireless work of a great number of people to bring a new and incredibly powerful astronomical tool to high energy astrophysicists around the world,” said Kelley. “I am grateful to the community’s support and encouragement in this endeavor.”

More information about HEAD AAS, its prizes, and upcoming meetings can be found at 


Megan Watzke


SpaceRef staff editor.