Two UCSC astronomers elected Fellows of the American Astronomical Society

Raja GuhaThakurta
Garth Illingworth

Professor Puragra (Raja) GuhaThakurta and Professor Emeritus Garth Illingworth in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz have been named Fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS). They are among 31 members honored as 2021 AAS Fellows for extraordinary achievement and service.

GuhaThakurta was recognized “for seminal contributions to studies of galaxy formation and evolution and stellar populations as well as a lifetime of dedicated service to the training of young scientists.” His research on the formation and evolution of galaxies includes studying the “fossil record” of local galaxies such as Andromeda, our large galactic neighbor, and he led the SPLASH collaboration, a large survey of red giant stars in Andromeda.

GuhaThakurta has also been active for many years in efforts to increase access to STEM research opportunities for high school students. He founded the Science Internship Program (SIP) at UCSC, and he is a cofounder of the Global SPHERE Network, which promotes programs like SIP that provide research experience for high school students.

Illingworth was recognized “for path-breaking studies of infant galaxies at the dawn of the universe, lifelong service to the astronomical community, and astute guidance on the national and international scene.” His research publications on the most distant and earliest galaxies, with an international team of scientists, have consistently been among the most highly cited papers on galaxies in the early universe.

Illingworth has also played leading roles in the development of major telescopes and astronomical instruments, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope, as well as the ground-based Keck Telescopes and Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT). He served as deputy director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in the 1980s, and he has served on numerous advisory teams and chaired several major astronomy and astrophysics policy committees. He received the AAS Lancelot M. Berkeley New York Community Trust Prize in 2016.

“It is wonderful to be able to recognize the scientific accomplishments and service to astronomy of a small group of our outstanding members each year,” said AAS President Paula Szkody.

For more information, see the AAS Fellows page. The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its mission is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.