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Lisa Kewley, Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University, received the 2020 James Craig Watson Medal.

Kewley’s combination of theoretical models and astronomical observations has had an enormous impact on our understandings of how galaxies have formed and evolved over the past 12 billion years.  She has made fundamental contributions to the study of galaxy collisions, cosmic chemical abundances, galaxy energetics, and the star-formation history of galaxies.

Her widely cited contributions to astronomy include developing theoretical models to identify the power sources of galaxies, deriving the first star-formation rate calibration to correct for chemical abundance, revealing the distribution of oxygen abundances left behind by colliding galaxies, showing that low-ionization nuclear emission-line regions are powered by super-massive black holes, and measuring the oxygen history of the universe.

Among her recent accomplishments, Kewley produced the first models for star-forming galaxies to include a variable temperature and density distribution within the galaxy.

The James Craig Watson Medal is presented every two years for outstanding contributions to the science of astronomy and carries with it a gold-plated bronze medal, a $25,000 prize, and $50,000 to support the recipient’s research. The Watson Medal was established by NAS Member and prolific Canadian-American astronomer, James Craig Watson. Watson is credited with discovering twenty-two asteroids in his lifetime. He published many articles and wrote A Popular Treatise on Comets (1861) and Theoretical Astronomy (1868).


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