The French Astronomical Society SAF (Société Astronomique de France) has awarded its international astronomy prize, the Jules Janssen Prize, to Leiden professor and IAU president Ewine van Dishoeck for her scientific achievements.
The medal will be presented today to Van Dishoeck by Thierry Montmerle (Paris Institute of Astrophysics, and former secretary of the International Astronomical Union). Because of the coronary pandemic, the ceremony will take place online.
The famous astronomer Jules Janssen (1824-1907) was SAF president between 1895 and 1897. Among other things, he instituted this prize, which has been awarded annually since 1897 to a French and a foreign astronomer alternately. The prize is awarded for outstanding scientific work and for contributions to the public dissemination of astronomy.
Previous winners include Percival Lowell (1904), Max Wolf (1912), Robert Esnault-Pelterie (1930), Albert Einstein (1931), André Danjon (1950), Jean-Claude Pecker (1967), Evry Schatzman (1973), Audouin Dollfus (1993), Michel Mayor (1998), Pierre Lena (1999), Reinhard Genzel (2000) and Françoise Combes (2017).
Ewine van Dishoeck is Professor of Molecular Astrophysics at Leiden Observatory. Since 2018, she has been President of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). After her PhD in Leiden (1984), she held scientific positions at the universities of Harvard, Princeton and Caltech in the US before returning to Leiden in 1990.
Nobel Prize in astronomy
Van Dishoeck does pioneering work in the field of astrochemistry with observations, theory and lab work. She has made important contributions to a better understanding of the chemistry of interstellar clouds and the formation of stars and planets. She has also been closely involved in the development and use of large observation facilities, such as ALMA and Herschel. Van Dishoeck has been the Scientific Director of the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy (NOVA) since 2007. She has won many prizes, including the Spinoza Prize in 2000, the Albert Einstein World Award of Science in 2015 and the Kavli Prize in 2018, which is also known as the Nobel Prize in astronomy.
In addition, she has been active in outreach throughout her career, with a special focus on the link between art and astronomy. In 2019, she led the IAU 100 years festivities, which reached tens of millions of people with more than 5,000 activities in more than 140 countries.