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2018 Magellanic Premium Medal

Sandra Faber receives Magellanic Premium



The 2018 Magellanic Premium medal was awarded to Sandra Faber “for her contributions to the study of galaxy formation and evolution, which have transformed our understanding of these building blocks of the Universe and set the agenda for years to come.  From the discovery of the Faber-Jackson relation to her fundamental contributions to the cold dark matter theory of galaxy formation, she has made galaxy formation and evolution a quantitative science.”  The medal was presented on April 26, 2019, at the Society's Spring 2019 meeting.  The inscription engraved on the medal is “Sandra Faber, for transforming the understanding of galaxy formation and evolution.”

Sandra Faber has been one of the leading optical astronomers since the 1970s whose contributions changed the study of galaxies from a qualitative to a quantitative science. Her observations and analysis showed the quantitative relations among mass, size, velocity dispersion, stellar populations and resident black holes in the massive elliptical galaxies that are the bedrock of extragalactic astronomy.  Among the earliest observers to recognize the prevalence and importance of dark matter, she also was among the earliest to note how feedback from supernova winds would alter the evolution of galaxies. Her numerous prescient contributions form the basis on which modern understanding of galaxy evolution now stands.  

Faber is professor emerita at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and astronomer emerita at University of California Observatories.  She has been recognized by many prizes including the National Medal of Science in 2013.  She was elected a member of the American Philosophical Society in 2001.

The award was established from a gift of 200 guineas by John Hyacinth de Magellan, of London, in 1786, “for a gold medal to be awarded from time to time under prescribed terms, to the author of the best discovery or most useful invention relating to navigation, astronomy, or natural philosophy (mere natural history only excepted).”  The medal, named the Magellanic Premium, was first awarded in 1790.   It is the oldest medal recognizing scientific achievements given by a North American institution.

The selection committee members were Gordon Baym (chair), Professor Emeritus, Research Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Marvin Cohen, University Professor of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, Senior Faculty Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; Jeremiah Ostriker, Professor of Astronomy, Columbia University, Professor Emeritus of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University; and Michael Turner, Director, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago.