Anneila I. Sargent

California Institute of Technology


Primary Section: 12, Astronomy
Membership Type: Member (elected 2021)

Biosketch

Anneila Sargent is an astronomer known for her observational work at millimeter-wave radio wavelengths, concentrating largely on understanding how stars and other planetary systems form and evolve from dense interstellar clouds in the Galaxy. She is the Ira S. Bowen Professor Emeritus at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Born in Scotland, she graduated from the University of Edinburgh with honors in physics and in 1977 earned her Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where she has spent her career. She joined the Caltech professorial faculty in 1998 and was director of the Institute’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory until 2007 when she became its Vice President for Student Affairs.
She was President of the American Astronomical Society, and chaired the NRC Board of Physics and Astronomy, NASA’s Space Science Advisory Committee, and the Board of the international Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). She is a member the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. She was appointed to the National Science Board in 2011.

Research Interests

Anneila Sargent’s research has largely focused on the early stages of protostellar evolution as stars emerge from the dense interstellar clouds of gas and dust in our galaxy. In particular, with her students and postdoctoral scholars, she uses molecular line and dust observations at millimeter and sub-millimeter wavelengths to study the structure and kinematics of the disks that surround low-mass stars in their formative stages. For stars like our Sun at this epoch of evolution, the presence of gaps and rings in the disks implies the presence of orbiting planets and suggests origin scenarios for other planetary systems. Since increasingly high resolution, high sensitivity observations from state-of-the-art millimeter/sub-millimeter-wave interferometers have been critical to advancing understanding in this field of research, Sargent has worked throughout her career to ensure continuing progress in the instrumental capabilities available at these wavelengths.

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