Mar
14

Grand challenges, a distinguished lecture and a thumbs-up from the kids

March 14, 2014. Have you reached a milestone, received an award or conquered the world (at least your little corner of it) lately? Let us know at torch@si.edu. We want to toot your horn for you! Be sure to include your contact information and a picture as an attachment.

2013 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award

Dr. Christine Jones, Director of the Consortium for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe and Senior Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, is the recipient of the 2013 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award.

This award recognizes a scholar’s sustained achievement in research, long-standing investment in the Smithsonian, outstanding contribution to a field, and ability to communicate research to a nonspecialist audience.

Christine Jones

Christine Jones

Jones began her career as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 1974; in 1975, she was selected to be a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows. She has been an astrophysicist at SAO since 1978, heading the Chandra Calibration Group from 1990–2010; she has served as Director of the Consortium for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe since 2010.

While an undergraduate at Harvard, Jones analyzed moon rocks and meteorites at SAO for which she received the Nininger Meteorite Award. With the 1970 launch of Uhuru, the first satellite devoted exclusively to X-ray astronomy, she looked beyond our solar system to Cygnus X-1, a binary X-ray source in which a black hole orbits a normal star. In her graduate work at Harvard, she discovered more X-ray binary sources and identified several with visible-light stars. Since the brightest X-ray source in the sky is faint in visible light, it was a remarkable discovery to find that the visible counterparts of some X-ray binaries were bright enough to be seen with a good pair of binoculars.

In 1978, Jones’ research shifted to galaxies beyond the Milky Way. The first images from the Einstein Observatory launched that year revealed that clusters of galaxies were not the fully formed systems most astronomers believed them to be. Instead, many clusters are still forming and growing. Observations also showed that elliptical galaxies were not devoid of gas as was universally accepted. Instead, the gas in these galaxies was so hot that it could only be seen in X-rays. Furthermore, the mass of the stars in these galaxies was not sufficient to prevent this gas from escaping. A massive halo of dark matter around the galaxy was required. For this work, Christine and her husband Dr. William Forman received the first Rossi Prize from the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society.

With the launch of the Chandra Observatory in 1999, the X-ray vision of the sky became sharper still, allowing astronomers to resolve many unanswered questions. With Chandra, Jones  and her colleagues have investigated the impact of supermassive black holes on galaxies and how clusters grow through the collisions of massive subclusters. For her contributions to NASA X-ray missions, she received four NASA group achievement awards and a NASA exceptional achievement medal. Her scientific accomplishments also have been recognized by the Marcel Grossmann Award, and by her election as a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science and as an Honorary Fellow in the Royal Astronomical Society.

Christine Jones, the 14th recipient of the Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award, was selected from finalists recommended by a committee representing research areas across the spectrum of Smithsonian scholarship. She presented her lecture, “Black Holes at Work: What ‘Fossil Records’ of the Impacts of Energetic Outbursts from Supermassive Black Holes Reveal About Galaxy Evolution”  March 11.

David Aguilar (Boston Globe staff photo by Dina Rudick)

David Aguilar (Boston Globe staff photo by Dina Rudick)

Astrophysical Observatory

First, Pluto left. Then it came back, along with Ceres and Eris…and now Haumea and MakeMake, too! The recent actions of the International Astronomical Union have put every solar system book out of date. In response, David Aguilar of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astronomical Observatory has revised his 2008 book for young readers. “13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System” recently won the 2014 Garden State Children’s Book Award from the New Jersey Library Association as the favorite non-fiction book of children in grades 2-5. Go science!

Grand Challenges Awards

The recipients of the 2013 Grand Challenges Awards have been announced. This award program promotes collaborative and interdisciplinary scholarly activities that advance one or more of the four Grand Challenges: Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe, Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet, Valuing World Cultures, and Understanding the American Experience. The Grand Challenges Awards seek to advance research as well as to broaden access, revitalize education, strengthen collections, and encourage new ways of thinking that involve emerging technology.

Level One grants provide seed money to develop research teams. The Level Two grants are aimed at groups that are poised to mount major projects and prepared to secure external funding.

Congratulations to the teams who were awarded grants. Visit the Smithsonian Consortia Website for more information about the Grand Challenges Awards program.

 

Principal Investigator

PI’s Unit

Project Title

Collaborating Units

LEVEL ONE

David Allison

NMAH

William Tecumseh Sherman: New Perspectives from Smithsonian Collections

NMAH, SIA

Joshua A. Bell

NMNH

Global Lives/Global Voices: Filming Speakers of 10 Endangered Languages (Planning Workshop)

NMAI, NMNH, CFCH

Michael Braun

NMNH

Comprehensive Recovery Planning for the Endangered Red Siskin (Sporagra cucullata)

NMNH, NZP, SCBI

Bruce Campbell

NASM

Alien Earths: Integrating Exoplanet Research in Exhibits at the National Air & Space Museum

NASM, SAO

Ariana Curtis

ACM

Being and Belonging: Exploring 21st Century Complexities of Representing the African Diaspora

ACM, CGCH, NMAAHC

Jim Deutsch

CFCH

Our American Journey and American Anthropological Association Collaborative Workshop

CFCH, NMAH

Elizabeth Duggal

NMNH

Smithsonian in China: Symposia and Interviews for Vision and Strategy Setting

FSG, OP&A, NMNH, NPG, NZP, SCBI, STRI

Susan Evans

NMAH

Chocolate: Innovations in Agriculture, Culture, and Society

NMAH, SI Gardens

Barton Hacker

NMAH

Americans in the Great War, before the AEF—and After: Volunteers at Home and Abroad, 1914-1924

NASM, NMAH

Allison Jessing

NPG

Feasibility Study: Establishing a Time Based Digital Art Conservation Lab at the Smithsonian Institution

HMSG, NPG, OCIO, SAAM

William Joye

SAO

Adapting SAOImage DS9 for General Purpose Hyper-spectral Imaging

MCI, SAO

Almus Kenter

SAO

Optimizing CMOS Imaging Detectors for Space-Based X-ray Observations within the Solar System

NASM, SAO

Igor Krupnik

NMNH

Emerging Themes in Native North American Research: Planning the Smithsonian Agenda for the 21st Century

NMAI, NMNH, SISP

Michael Mason

CFCH

Cultural and Linguistic Vitality Assessment

CFCH, NMAI, NMNH

Gareth Morgan

NASM

Multi-Instrument Approach to the 3D Characterization of Martian Analogs: Hawaii

NASM, NMNH

Daniel Patnaude

SAO

The Formation and Utilization of the Elements

NASM, SAO

Joanna Pecore

FSG

Planning Our Future Together: An Audience Research Project for Smithsonian Music

FSG, CFCH, NMAH, NMAI

Amy Van Allen

NMAI

Engineering the Inka Empire: Sustainability and Ancient Technology

NMAI, SLC

Steve Velasquez

NMAH

Exiles in America: Memory and the Lived Experiences of Cuban Pedro Pans and Balseros

NMAH

Mark Weber

SAO

The Dynamic Sun Video Wall Exhibit

SAO, NASM

Scott Wing

NMNH

Living in the Anthropocene

MCI, NMAfA, NMAH, NMAI, NMNH, SAO

Joe Wright

STRI

The Chemical Composition of Forest Tree Communities

NMMH, SCBI, SERC, STRI

LEVEL TWO

Ben Andrews

NMNH

Quantification of Global Volcanic Gas Emissions Using Satellite and Ground-based Instrumentation

NMNH, SAO

Jeremy Drake

SAO

Lessons from Mars: Are Habitable Atmospheres on Planets around M Dwarfs Viable?

NASM, SAO

Kristofer Helgen

NMNH

The Carnivore’s Dilemma: Understanding the Impacts of Environmental Change on Africa’s Large Carnivores

CFCH, MCI, NMNH, NPG, STRI

Meredith Holmgren

CFCH

Intangible Cultural Heritage at the Smithsonian Institution

CFCH, NMNH, OCon, OIR, OUSHAC

Warren Johnson

NZP-SCBI

Biodiversity Genomics Exemplar Projects

NMNH, SCBI, STRI

Jennifer Jones

NMAH

Civil War’s 150th Anniversary

NMAH, NPG

Igor Krupnik

NMNH

Arctic People and Animal “Crashes”: Human, Climate, and Habitat Agency in the Anthropocene

NMNH

Gail Lowe

ACM

Urban Waterways Project

ACM, NMAH, NMAI, SERC

Valerie Paul

NMNH

An Experimental Network for Understanding Seagrass (Thalassia testudinum) Biodiversity and Ecology—Advancing the Tennebaum Marine Observatories Network

NMNH, SERC, STRI

Gabriela Pérez-Báez

NMNH

Documentation and Revitalization of the Language and Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the Isthmus Zapotec Community

CFCH, NMAI, NMNH

Eric Silver

SAO

Enabling Specimen-Based Study with Innovative Technologies

MCI, SAO

Melissa Songer

NZP-SCBI

Smithsonian Biodiversity Conservation for Sustaining the Natural Diversity of Myanmar

OIR, NMNH, SCBI, SERC, STRI

Thornton Staples

OCIO

Development of Smithsonian Biodiversity Genomics Bioinformatic Analysis Pipelines

OCIO, NMNH, SCBI

Mark Weber

SAO

The Dynamic Sun Video Wall Exhibit

NASM, SAO

 

Grand Challenges Consortia directors

From left, Christine Jones, director of the Consortium for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe; Michelle Delaney, director of the Consortium for Understanding the American Experience; Secretary Wayne Clough; Robert Leopold, director of the Consortium for World Cultures; W. John Kress, director of the Consortium for Understanding and Sustaining a Biodiverse Planet (Photo by Eric Long)

 


Posted: 14 March 2014
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