Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff, university distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M University, has been elected as a 2017 Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS), the world's largest organization of physicists.

No more than one-half of 1 percent of the organization's current membership is selected by their peers for inclusion in the APS Fellowship Program, which was created to recognize advances in knowledge through original research and publication, innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology, and significant contributions to the teaching of physics or service.

Suntzeff, an observational astronomer specializing in cosmology, supernovae, stellar populations and astronomical instrumentation, is cited "for essential contributions and leadership in observational cosmology and astrophysics; investigations into the phenomenology of Type Ia supernovae which laid the groundwork for the discovery of the accelerated expansion of the universe; and for co-founding one of the two teams that made this discovery." He was nominated by the APS Division of Astrophysics and is one of five 2017 honorees from the state of Texas.

Suntzeff joined the Texas A&M Department of Physics and Astronomy in 2006 as director of the Texas A&M astronomy program and the inaugural holder of the Mitchell-Heep-Munnerlyn Chair in Observational Astronomy. A member of the George P. and Cynthia Woods Mitchell Institute for Fundamental Physics and Astronomy, he was appointed in 2013 as a university distinguished professor, the highest level of achievement for faculty recognized as pre-eminent authorities in their fields.

Prior to coming to Texas A&M, Suntzeff spent 20 years as a staff astronomer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in La Serena, Chile, rising to the rank of associate director for science at NOAO. In 1994 with Dr. Brian Schmidt, he co-founded the High-Z Supernova Search Team that in 1998 discovered acceleration and the presence of dark energy in the universe. The finding was honored as Science magazine's "Scientific Breakthrough of the Year" for 1998 across all science disciplines and earned a host of prestigious international awards, including the 2006 Shaw Prize, the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology, the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics and the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. He was also a co-founder of the Calan/Tololo Supernova Survey that established Type Ia supernovae as the most precise markers for measuring cosmological distances.

Suntzeff previously was honored by the university with the 2013 Bush Excellence Award for International Research and a 2012 Texas A&M Association of Former Students Distinguished Achievement Award in Research. A past vice president of the American Astronomical Society, he spent most of 2011 in Washington, D.C. as Texas A&M's first-ever National Academy of Sciences Jefferson Science Fellow, advising the U.S. State Department on scientific issues as they relate to international diplomacy.

Suntzeff earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Stanford University in 1974 and a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Lick Observatory in 1980.

To learn more about Suntzeff and his teaching, research and professional service accomplishments, visit http://mitchell.tamu.edu/people/nicholas-suntzeff/.

For more information on the American Physical Society or the APS Fellowship Program, visit at http://www.aps.org.

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Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff, (979) 229-9597 or nsuntzeff@tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff

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