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Secretary's Research Awards, 2013

1. Secretary's Distinguished Research Lecture, 2013
2. Secretary's Research Prizes, 2013
3. About the Secretary's Research Prizes


Secretary's Distinguished Research Lecture, 2013

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that Dr. Christine Jones, Director of the Consortium for Unlocking the Mysteries of the Universe and Senior Astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, will receive 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 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, Christine 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, Christine 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, Christine 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.

With the launch of the Einstein Observatory in 1978, Christine’s research shifted to galaxies beyond the Milky Way. The first Einstein images 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, Christine 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, 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. This year’s committee included Louise Cort (Freer/Sackler), Adrienne Kaeppler (Natural History), David DeVorkin, Chair (Air and Space), Giovanni Fazio (Astrophysical Observatory), Kenneth Slowik (American History), Tom Crouch (Air and Space), and Dennis Whigham (Environmental Research Center). I am grateful to them for their work. 

Christine will present her lecture, “Black Holes at Work: What ‘Fossil Records’ of the Impacts of Energetic Outbursts from Supermassive Black Holes Reveal About Galaxy Evolution” at 2 p.m. Tuesday, March 11, in the Freer’s Meyer Auditorium. A reception will follow in the Smithsonian Castle Commons.

Please join me in extending congratulations to Christine for receiving this well-deserved Smithsonian honor.

Sincerely,

Wayne Clough

Secretary


Secretary's Research Prize, 2013

These pan-Institutional prizes recognize excellence in recent research by the Institution’s employees and carry a $2,000 award to each prize winner’s research account. 

Dr. Stuart J. Davies, of the Tropical Research Institute, for his jointly-authored book:  “The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia.”

Dr. Sid Hart, of the National Portrait Gallery, for his exhibition catalog:  “1812:  A Nation Emerges.”

Dr. Eleanor Harvey, of the American Art Museum, for her book:  The Civil War and American Art.

Dr. G. David Johnson, of the National Museum of Natural History – Vertebrate Zoology, for his article/book chapter:  “A ‘living fossil’ eel (Anguilliformes:  Protanguillidae,  fam. nov.) from an undersea cave in Palau.”

Dr. Christine Kreamer, of the National Museum of African Art, for her exhibition catalog:  “African Cosmos:  Stellar Arts.”

Mr. Thomas Lera, of the National Postal Museum, for his book:  G.H. Kaestlin Collection of Imperial Russian and Zemstvo Stamps.

Dr. Ann McMullen, of the National Museum of the American Indian, for her article/book chapter:  “Revealing Ancestral Central America.”

Dr. William J. McShea, of the National Zoological Park, for his jointly-authored book:  The Ecology and Conservation of Seasonally Dry Forests in Asia.

Dr. Philip Myers, of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, for his article/book chapter:  “Mass and Luminosity Evolution of Young Stellar Objects.”  

Mr. E. Warren Perry, Jr., of the National Portrait Gallery, for his symposium proceeding:  “Echoes of Elvis:   The Cultural Legacy of Elvis Presley.” 

Mr. David C. Ward, of the National Portrait Gallery, for his exhibition:  Poetic Likeness:  Modern American Poets.

The work of the recipients of the Secretary’s Research Prizes underwent peer review and the finalists were recommended by a committee representing research areas across the spectrum of Smithsonian scholarship.  This year’s committee included Eleanor Harvey (SAAM), Dave Johnson (NMNH), Emily Kaplan (NMAI), Dorothy Moss (NPG), and J. Scott Robinson (OSP).

 


About the Secretary's Research Prizes

Process and Scope
A committee of jurors named by the Smithsonian Congress of Scholars will review nominations and forward its recommendations to the Secretary who will select the final award recipients. The awards will be presented by the Secretary in the Fall.  Prize winners will each be awarded $2,000 in research funds to be placed in 402 accounts for their use.

Any Smithsonian staff member may place a colleague’s name into nomination or may self-nominate. The array of awards will be pan-Smithsonian, reflecting the wide diversity of research at the Institution across disciplinary areas with differing standards and goals. Peer-reviewed scholarship on any topic that covers the span of the Smithsonian’s activities is eligible. Interdisciplinary and collaborative research is encouraged, as is publication in electronic as well as print or video formats. In the sciences, subject areas may include, among others, astronomy, earth sciences, human sciences, and biology; in the humanities, history and culture, art history, social sciences, and conservation reports. Excellence as judged by peers, internal or external, will be the overarching standard and interdisciplinary research is especially encouraged.

The selection committee will have considerable latitude and flexibility to recommend prize awards, depending upon the number and quality of nominations each year. Following are some recommended categories and guidelines for submitting nominations:

Prize Categories:

Books. Two or more prizes may be awarded annually for best scholarly books. Books published in the past three years may be placed in nomination (i.e., for the 2012 awards, books published in 2009, 2010, and 2011 will be considered). They may remain in contention for three years. Books must make an original and useful contribution to knowledge about the subject discussed. They may be judged on the basis of quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of the research to the scholarly field and society. Books may include single-author exhibition catalogues. Two copies of each book, a copy of the author’s (or authors’ if there are more than one) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each book should be submitted. Book reviews may be added to the nomination packet as desired.

Articles or Chapters. Multiple prizes may be awarded for best scholarly articles in peer-reviewed publications or for single essays in book-length publications in a variety of areas. Articles or essays must have been published within the last two years (i.e., for the 2012 prize, articles published in 2010 and 2011 are eligible). They will be judged on quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of the research to the scholarly field and society. A copy of each article or essay, a copy of the author’s (or authors’) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each article should be submitted.

Exhibition catalogues or symposium proceedings. The selection committee may also recommend prizes for the best multi-author exhibition catalogue or best symposium proceedings publication organized and edited by a Smithsonian employee (or employees). Catalogues published within the last two years (i.e., for the 2012 prize, essays published in 2010 and 2011) are eligible. They will be judged on quality of research, originality, grace and clarity of writing, and usefulness of research to the scholarly field and society. Two copies of each catalogue, a copy of the editor’s (or editors’) curriculum vitae, and two letters attesting to the significance of each catalogue should be submitted.

Exhibitions. The committee may upon occasion award a prize for the best exhibition without published catalogue in the past calendar year. The exhibition demonstrates original new scholarship and a new perception of a given area of study, through clear explanation of research, selection and grouping of objects, explanatory wall texts, and installation strategies. This is not a prize for education or outreach but for an innovative assemblage and display of important new research. The nomination must include a written overview of the exhibition, photos (or photocopies) of the spaces, a map showing the layout of the exhibition and explanation of the installation strategy, and copies of any accompanying brochures or fliers. Exhibition reviews and two letters attesting to the impact of the show on scholarly understanding must also be submitted.

Recordings and moving images. The committee may choose to award one or more prizes for the best documentary recordings (sound recordings with liner notes) or video/film productions. Recordings or productions issued within the last two years may be considered (i.e., for the 2012 prize, essays published in 2010 and 2011). They will be judged on research, originality, clarity of presentation, and usefulness of research to the scholarly field and society. In addition to a copy of (or access to) the recording or production, two letters attesting to the significance of each nominated production should be submitted.

Scholarly web sites. One or more prizes may be awarded for the best online site(s) offering original research and analysis to the scholarly world and the public. As with all of the other prize categories, the content of the site must be peer reviewed in some fashion. The research offered on the web site must be original and make a distinct new contribution to the field. Sites completed within the past two years are eligible (i.e., for the 2012 award, sites completed in 2010 and 2011 are eligible). Two letters from scholars attesting to the significance of the site should be submitted.