UCSC astronomer Sandra Faber to receive the National Medal of Science

sandra faber
Sandra Faber has been selected by President Obama to receive the National Medal of Science. (Photo by Elena Zhukova)

The White House announced today that a UC Santa Cruz faculty member is one of a dozen researchers selected by President Obama to receive the National Medal of Science. Sandra Faber, a University Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC and the interim director of UC Observatories, will receive the award from the president at a White House ceremony in early 2013.

In addition to selecting 12 recipients of the Medal of Science, President Obama also named 11 recipients of the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. The two awards are considered the highest honors bestowed by the United States government upon scientists, engineers, and inventors.

"I am proud to honor these inspiring American innovators," President Obama said. "They represent the ingenuity and imagination that has long made this nation great — and they remind us of the enormous impact a few good ideas can have when these creative qualities are unleashed in an entrepreneurial environment."

An award-winning observational astronomer with research interests in cosmology and galaxy formation, Faber has made important contributions to scientific progress in understanding the history and structure of the universe.

She has coauthored nearly 250 scientific papers, and her work has been cited over 37,000 times. A member of the National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and American Philosophical Society, Faber has received many awards and honors for her achievements. These include the Franklin Institute's 2009 Bower Award and Prize for Achievement in Science and two awards in 2012 for lifetime scientific achievement, the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific and the Russell Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Faber currently leads the CANDELS project, the largest project in the history of the Hubble Space Telescope, to extend our view of galaxy formation back nearly to the Big Bang.

"In her years at UC Santa Cruz, Sandy has amassed an amazing record of scientific achievement, innovation, and excellence in teaching," UCSC Chancellor George Blumenthal said. "I am absolutely delighted that she has been selected to receive the National Medal of Science, an honor that Sandy richly deserves."

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is administered for the White House by the National Science Foundation. Awarded annually, the medal recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to science and engineering. A committee of Presidential appointees selects nominees on the basis of their extraordinary knowledge in and contributions to chemistry, engineering, computing, mathematics, or the biological, behavioral/social, and physical sciences.

"Receiving the National Medal of Science is the thrill of a lifetime, but good science does not happen in isolation," Faber said upon learning of her selection. "Let me take this moment to express my gratitude to the University of California Observatories and UC Santa Cruz for providing both world-class telescopes and superb collaborators, without which the discoveries I've made would never have happened."