Astronomer Ariadna Murguia-Berthier wins 2022 Trumpler Award for Ph.D. thesis

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is honoring Murguia-Berthier for the research she completed as a graduate student in astronomy at UC Santa Cruz

Ariadna Murguia-Berthier
Ariadna Murguia-Berthier

Ariadna Murguia-Berthier, who completed her doctorate in astronomy at UC Santa Cruz in 2021, will receive the 2022 Robert J. Trumpler Award, given annually by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific to a recent recipient of the Ph.D. degree in North America whose research is considered unusually important to astronomy.

Her dissertation, “Binary Neutron Star Mergers,” was integral in interpreting and analyzing one of the most important recent astrophysical events—the first detection of both gravitation waves and electromagnetic radiation coming from the same astronomical object. (See the UCSC Special Report on this landmark event.)

Detected in 2017 and named GW/GRB170817, this neutron star merger engaged the astronomical community in intense research efforts and helped solve some key mysteries, including the origin of heavy elements (like gold and platinum) and the source of the short gamma-ray bursts detected in the cosmos. Murguia-Berthier worked with Enrico Ramirez Ruiz, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, to provide a coherent theoretical framework for understanding the observations.

“Ari is currently one of the best early-career scientists working in high energy astrophysics,” said Ramirez-Ruiz. “Her thesis shows unprecedented productivity and creativity as well as high impact. Ari’s scientific productivity, versatility, and depth have been remarkable, and I am delighted that she has been recognized with this magnificent award.”

Currently a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Northwestern University, Murguia-Berthier already has an impressive publications record. By the time she had completed her doctorate, her 18 peer-reviewed articles had already been cited over 4,500 times. Of those, her seven first-author publications had been cited three hundred and fifty times. Her work appears in some of the most prestigious journals in science, including Nature, Science, and the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Murguia-Berthier's main research interest continues to focus on studying the merger of compact objects through numerical simulations.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific will celebrate Murguia-Berthier’s achievements at the ASP Awards Gala on November 19, 2022, in Burlingame, California.