Astronomer Douglas N.C. Lin receives prestigious Bruce Gold Medal

Astronomical Society of the Pacific honors Lin for lifetime achievement in research

Douglas N.C. Lin
Douglas N.C. Lin

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) has announced that Douglas N.C. Lin, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, will receive the 2015 Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal. The highest honor bestowed by the ASP, the award recognizes Lin for a lifetime of outstanding research in astronomy.

Lin is known for his significant and seminal achievements in a variety of domains, including the orbital motion of the Magellanic Clouds, the formation and evolution of exoplanets, the physics of cataclysmic variables and accretion disks, and the dynamics, structure, and evolution of Saturn's Rings.

Awarded since 1898, the Bruce Medal has gone to some of the greatest astronomers of the past century, including five previous recipients at UC Santa Cruz: George Herbig, Albert Whitford, Donald Osterbrook, Robert Kraft, and Sandra Faber.

Lin has made major contributions to scientific understanding of the dynamics of the Magellanic Clouds within our galaxy's dark halo, a campaign that he was the driving force on for decades. His writing on the subject remains a classic reference, and his study of dark matter in dwarf spheroidal galaxies started a new subfield.


Lin is also recognized as a leading expert on the architecture of extrasolar planetary systems--where planets form, how they interact with their parent proto-solar disk of gas, and how far from their parent star they end up. He has investigated the evolution of planetary systems and is responsible for the models that help astronomers interpret the findings from exoplanet studies. Shortly after the discovery of a "hot Jupiter" in 51 Pegasus, Lin wrote the seminal paper on how these objects could have obtained such close proximity to their host star.

In addition to being a driving theoretical force in several fields, Lin is also the founding director of the Kavli Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Peking University, where he has a major impact on the scientific advancement of China. Lin was nominated for the Bruce Medal by the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The nomination letter stated, "Professor Lin's experience as a world-leading expert has served as an asset for the Chinese astronomical community, raising the profile and boosting the visibility of astronomy in the country and cultivating the next generation of Chinese astronomers."

Lin was honored recently with the Brouwer Award from the Division of Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society for his achievements and contributions to this field. He has received both a Humboldt Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship and has held a number of distinguished academic positions, including Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, Lecar Lecturer at Harvard University, Rothchild Professor at the Isaac Newton Institute of Cambridge University, and the Carnegie Centenary Professor at the University of St. Andrews. He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2002.

Lin earned his B.S. from McGill University and his Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from Cambridge University. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1979. During his career to date, he has published over 225 peer-reviewed articles and has been cited over 15,600 times.

About the ASP

Founded in 1889 in San Francisco, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific is one of the most recognized and well-respected nonprofit astronomy organizations in the country, with diverse national programs, publications, and awards designed to serve, empower, and recognize professional and amateur astronomers, as well as formal and informal educators. Its mission is to foster science literacy and share the excitement of exploration and discovery through astronomy.