Awards, People, Research

Three faculty named 2022 Fellows of American Astronomical Society

Imke de Pater, Richard Klein and Chung-Pei Ma are among 23 new Fellows of the AAS, the third cohort of scientists honored for their achievements and service

collage of photos of de Pater, Klein and Ma

Imke de Pater, Richard Klein and Chung-Pei Ma were named 2022 Fellows of the American Astronomical Society.

Three UC Berkeley astronomers have been named 2022 Fellows of the American Astronomical Society (AAS), an accolade the society instituted in 2020 to honor members for extraordinary achievement and service.

The new fellows are Imke de Pater, now professor emerita of astronomy and of earth and planetary science; Richard Klein, adjunct professor of astronomy; and Chung-Pei Ma, the Judy Chandler Webb Professor in the Physical Sciences and a professor of astronomy and of physics.

They were among 23 new fellows announced today (Jan. 4) and join four other Berkeley astronomers — Carl Heiles, Christopher McKee, Hugh Hudson and Alex Filippenko — who have been named fellows since 2020.

Alex Filippenko teaching in front of a picture of a comet

Astronomy professor Alex Filippenko has won numerous awards for his passionate and wildly popular teaching of non-science majors.

Filippenko was also awarded this year’s AAS Education Prize, which “recognizes outstanding contributions to the education of the public, students and/or the next generation of professional astronomers.”

The AAS is a major international organization of professional astronomers, astronomy educators and amateur astronomers that includes about 8,000 members from a range of disciplines, including physics, geology and engineering.

De Pater was recognized “for innovative observations of bodies in our solar system using cutting-edge instrumentation across the electromagnetic spectrum and in-depth modeling of the data.”

Klein, who is also a senior physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, was honored “for broad and influential contributions to computational astrophysics, for scientific achievements on radiatively-driven stellar winds and star formation theory, and for training a generation of students and postdoctoral scholars.”

Ma was recognized “for pioneering contributions to wide-ranging theoretical and observational studies of black holes, galaxy evolution and dynamics, and cosmology.”

According to the AAS announcement, the recipients were singled out “for enhancing and sharing humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe through personal achievement and extraordinary service to the astronomical sciences and to the AAS.”

De Pater has used radio, infrared and optical telescopes to study the atmospheres of the massive planets in the solar system — Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus — and many of their moons. She is the co-author of two textbooks on planetary science.

Klein and McKee, a professor emeritus of astronomy and physics, co-founded the Berkeley Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics group in the astronomy department, where they conducted research on star formation and pioneered the development of block structured adaptive mesh refinement for star formation. They also developed computational models for radiation-driven implosion in stars and Klein co-developed the leading theory for the origin of stellar winds for hot stars.

A cosmologist and astrophysicist, Ma leads the MASSIVE survey of local galaxies, which uses space- and ground-based telescopes to exhaustively study the 100 most massive galaxies within about 100 megaparsecs (326 million light years) of Earth. A major goal is to weigh the supermassive black holes at the centers of each one.

Filippenko, a professor of astronomy, was lauded “for his passionate and wildly popular teaching of non-science majors; his mentoring of hundreds of teaching assistants and undergraduate research students; his dedication to public education through lectures, TV documentaries and video courses; his textbook and other popular writings; and his leadership in saving Lick Observatory, a prominent California observatory that faced defunding in 2014.”