Astronomy prize recognises work on most luminous galaxies

  • January 12, 2018
Astronomy prize recognises work on most luminous galaxies

Caitlin Casey wins outstanding early year prize from the American Astronomical Society.

What excites me about this work is that our discoveries often seem to upend or completely reverse previously-drawn conclusions, and we still have so much to learn. This is, of course, the guiding principle of all scientific investigation and it keeps me driven. I don’t know what we’ll find tomorrow, but I know it'll be exciting.

Caitlin Casey

Gates Cambridge Scholar Caitlin Casey has been awarded an outstanding early-career achievement prize by the American Astronomical Society.

Casey [2007], who is an assistant professor in the University of Texas at Austin’s Department of Astronomy,  was awarded the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize at the Society’s  semi-annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

The organisation awards the prize each year for “outstanding early-career achievement in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astronomical object”.

The Society said Casey was selected due to her work “on high-redshift star-forming galaxies and for pioneering new quantitative techniques for determining the importance of submillimeter galaxies in galaxy evolution”. It states: “Her measurements of their total luminosities show that submillimeter galaxies have enormous star-formation rates and represent the birth of the most massive galaxies in today's universe. In addition, she has helped establish the existence of protoclusters at high redshift and quantify their properties.”

Casey, who did her PhD in Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, will deliver a prize lecture at a future conference.

Her group at the University of Texas at Austin is investigating the most luminous galaxies on the edge of the observable universe and seeking to understand how those galaxies are embedded in the large-scale cosmic web. Casey’s work has shown that such extremely bright galaxies are uniquely useful for studying the formation history of galaxy clusters, which are the most massive gravitationally-bound objects in existence.

She says: “What excites me about this work is that our discoveries often seem to upend or completely reverse previously-drawn conclusions, and we still have so much to learn. This is, of course, the guiding principle of all scientific investigation and it keeps me driven. I don’t know what we’ll find tomorrow, but I know it'll be exciting."

Caitlin Casey

Caitlin Casey

  • Alumni
  • United States
  • 2007 PhD Astronomy
  • St John's College

I'm currently an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. I research galaxy formation and evolution from an observer's perspective; I use the Universe's most luminous galaxies to place constraints on the history of cosmic star-formation, collapse of large scale structure, and the formation of the first galaxies. I'm also interested in teaching pedagogy, how people learn, and how to make STEM fields more equitable and inclusive.

Previous Education

University of Arizona BS, Physics, Applied Math, Astronomy 2007

Latest News

Provost wins top Royal Society award

Gates Cambridge Provost Professor Barry Everitt has been selected for the Royal Society’s premier award in the biological sciences. Professor Barry Everitt FMedSci FRS has been awarded the Croonian Medal and Lecture 2021 for his research on the application of his findings on brain mechanisms of motivation to important societal issues, such as drug addiction. […]

Addressing energy injustice in the Global South

A new framework which uses artificial intelligence to analyse textual data on energy use and behaviour could help policymakers develop a deeper understanding of energy injustices in the Global South. The study, Grounded reality meets machine learning: A deep-narrative analysis framework for energy policy research, was led by Gates Cambridge Scholar Ramit Debnath [2018] and is published in the journal Energy Research […]

Scholar wins top German prize for PhD thesis

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious international award for her PhD dissertation on the relationship between offshore finance and state power. Dr Andrea Binder was named winner of the Körber Foundation’s German Dissertation Award 2020 for social sciences. The prize, one of the most highly endowed for young researchers from Germany, honours excellent PhD research which […]

Developing a farm for impact model

Shadrack Frimpong has not yet started his PhD, but already his and his team’s work has earned him awards from the Queen, the Clinton Foundation and the Muhammad Ali Foundation. The awards are for their outstanding work in creating a potential new development model for rural crop-growing communities starting from Shadrack’s own village in Ghana. […]