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

Climate change: the world’s greatest challenge

Three Gates Cambridge alumnae took part in the first of a series of online panels to celebrate the scholarship programme’s 20th anniversary. The panel discussion, Climate change: the world’s greatest challenge, took place on the day that the Gates Cambridge Class of 2021 was officially announced. The panel was introduced and hosted by Professor Stephen […]

Class of 2021 announced

The Gates Cambridge Class of 2021 made up of 74 outstanding new scholars has been officially announced. The Gates Cambridge scholarship programme, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary, is the University of Cambridge’s leading international postgraduate scholarship programme. It was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill […]

Serotonin and its role in emotional responses

Two new studies which shed light on the role of serotonin in emotional responses have been published in leading journals. Jonathan Kanen [2015] is lead author of both. The first is published in Translational Psychiatry and looked at the influence of the neurotransmitter serotonin on emotional reactions to social conflict. The study involved volunteers drawing […]

Scholar wins NASA Fellowship

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has won a prestigious NASA Fellowship to continue his studies on exoplanets. Luis Welbanks has been awarded a NASA Hubble Fellowship and will begin his programme in the autumn at Arizona State University. The Fellowship programme “enables outstanding postdoctoral scientists to pursue independent research in any area of NASA Astrophysics, using […]