Astrophysicist Guðmundur Stefánsson Wins the Robert J. Trumpler Award

Wednesday, Aug 25, 2021
by Department of Astrophysical Sciences

Guðmundur Stefánsson, the Henry Russell Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences has been awarded the 2020 Robert J. Trumpler Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP) in recognition for his recent thesis judged highly important to astronomy. Dr. Stefánsson graduated in 2019 from Penn State University with a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics where he completed his thesis titled, Extreme Precision Photometry and Radial Velocimetry from the Ground. He developed and used next generation instruments to better detect and characterize planets orbiting nearby stars. This included pioneering the use of engineered diffusers, nanofabricated optical devices capable of molding the image of a star into a broad and stabilized shape, to achieve some of the highest photometric precisions for ground-based telescopes. Additionally, he helped design and deploy two next-generation radial velocity spectrographs to detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars: the near-infrared Habitable-zone Planet Finder (HPF) spectrograph on the 10m Hobby-Eberly Telescope at McDonald Observatory in Texas, and the NEID spectrograph on the 3.5m WIYN Telescope at Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona.

At Princeton he is currently working with Professor Josh Winn to study the orbital architectures of exoplanets and the obliquities of warm Neptunes. Along with leading additional ongoing exoplanet characterization efforts, he is the Deputy Project Scientist of the HPF spectrograph and is currently leading the execution of the 5-year HPF survey to detect planets in the habitable zones of nearby low-mass stars.

The Astronomical Society of the Pacific confers the Robert J. Trumpler Award annually to a recent doctoral graduate in Astronomy in North America whose thesis is recognized as highly important to the field of astronomy. The award is named after a notable Swiss-American astronomer, Robert Julius Trumpler.  A virtual ceremony will take place at the ASP Annual Meeting at the end of 2021.  A full citation and description of the award is available on the ASP website.