Astronomy grad students honored by International Astronomical Union

Caroline Morley and Morgan MacLeod are among the first winners of the IAU Ph.D. Prize in recognition of outstanding scientific achievement

Caroline Morley
Morgan MacLeod

Two UC Santa Cruz graduate students, Caroline Morley and Morgan MacLeod, are winners of the IAU Ph.D. Prize awarded by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

This is the first year the IAU has awarded the prize, established to recognize outstanding scientific achievement in astronomy by Ph.D. students around the world. Each of the IAU's nine divisions selects a winner in its particular area of astronomy.

Morley won in the Planetary Systems and Bioastronomy division for her dissertation "Exoplanetary atmospheres: Clouds and hazes in exoplanet and brown dwarf atmospheres." Working with professor of astronomy and astrophysics Jonathan Fortney, Morley studied the atmospheres of a variety of objects, from super-Earths to brown dwarfs. She is now a NASA Sagan Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

MacLeod won in the Stars and Stellar Physics division for his dissertation "Social stars: Modeling the interactive lives of stars in dense clusters and binary systems in the era of time domain astronomy." He worked with Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics, using computational methods to explore close encounters between stars and compact objects. He is now a NASA Einstein Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.

As IAU Ph.D. Prize winners, Morley and MacLeod will receive airfare, registration fees, and accommodation to attend the next IAU General Assembly, August 20- 31, 2018, in Vienna, Austria. They will also have the opportunity to present their research work in one of the sessions of the General Assembly.