Astrophysicist Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz awarded American Physical Society’s Nicholson Medal

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz
Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz (Photo by Steve Kurtz)

Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, has been selected to receive the American Physical Society’s 2021 Dwight Nicholson Medal for Outreach, which recognizes the humanitarian aspect of physics and physicists created through public lectures and public media, teaching, research, or science related activities.

Ramirez-Ruiz was recognized “for innovations in mentoring, such as the Lamat Program, all of which have demonstrated how members of historically marginalized populations can thrive, lead, and advance scientific enterprise in astronomy and related fields.”

Ramirez-Ruiz, who holds the Vera Rubin Presidential Chair for Diversity in Astronomy at UCSC, established the Lamat program to give undergraduate students the opportunity to work with UCSC faculty and graduate students on computational astrophysics projects. As the director of the program, he works vigorously to support the promotion and retention of women and underrepresented minorities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Two-thirds of the Lamat program’s participants belong to historically marginalized groups in STEM, and two-thirds are first-generation college students. All of the program’s participants have graduated with STEM degrees, and 74 percent have gone on to graduate school.

The Nicholson Medal was established in 1994 by the Division of Plasma Physics and the Forum on Physics and Society. Previous winners include Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium. The award includes a stipend of $2,000, and Ramirez-Ruiz will be honored in an awards ceremony at an upcoming meeting of the American Physical Society.