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(Credit: Texas A&M Foundation / Bill Salans.)

COLLEGE STATION --

Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff, university distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M University, has been designated a Regents Professor for 2016-17 by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.

Suntzeff, an observational astronomer and a 2017 American Physical Society Fellow, is one of 12 A&M System faculty members who were nominated for the prestigious appointment, approved as part of the A&M System Board of Regents' October meeting, held at Tarleton State University. Ten agency service, extension or research professionals within the A&M System also were recognized with the Regents Fellows Service Award.

The Board established the Regents Professor Award program in 1996 to recognize employees who have made exemplary contributions to their university or agency and to the people of Texas. To date, 224 faculty members have been named Regents Professors. Suntzeff ranks as only the sixth within the College of Science (Dr. Robert Clark, physics, 1998; Dr. Sherry J. Yennello, chemistry, 2007; Dr. Michael J. Benedik, biology, 2012; Dr. Harold Boas, mathematics, 2014; Dr. David Bergbreiter, chemistry, 2016) to merit the honor. A seventh -- Dr. Ryland Young, biochemistry and biophysics, 2016 -- is a joint professor of biology.

Nominees must be full-time professors or senior-level professionals who have held that rank in the A&M System for at least five years and have produced a distinguished record of teaching, research and/or service. The selection process begins with a call for nominations from the chancellor, after which an internal selection committee is formed within each institution or agency. Final nominations are put forth to the chief executive officer of each respective entity and then subjected to a System-level review consisting of academic vice chancellors and past recipients of the awards. Finally, nominations are forwarded to the chancellor and the board for final approval.

Along with the perpetual Regents Professor title for the duration of their A&M System service, recipients are recognized with a $9,000 stipend and a commemorative medallion that is presented along with an inscribed nameplate and certificate encased in a hand-crafted wooden shadow box.

Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said the new Regents Professors and Regents Fellows have proven their commitment to the System's success.

"These exceptional individuals represent the best of our great System and higher education in Texas," Chancellor Sharp said. "They are true assets."

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/.

Click here for additional information on the Regents Professor Award and a list of past recipients.

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About The Texas A&M University System: The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $4.2 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities and seven state agencies, the Texas A&M System educates more than 140,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. System-wide, research and development expenditures exceeded $946 million in FY 2015 and helped drive the state's economy. To learn more, visit https://www.tamus.edu/.

-aTm-

Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Nicholas B. Suntzeff

  • Suntzeff at the May 2011 international meeting in Geneva of the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction -- one of the many events he attended during his yearlong stint as the United States representative to the United Nations' Office for Disaster Risk Reduction and as Texas A&M's first faculty member selected to the prestigious Jefferson Science Fellowship Program. (Credit: Nicholas B. Suntzeff.)

  • Suntzeff, front and just-right-of-center (third from right) at the December 2011 Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm. He is pictured with the High-Z Supernova Search Team, which featured Nobel Prize co-recipients Brian Schmidt (left of Suntzeff) and Adam Riess (left of Schmidt). (Credit: Image courtesy of and copyrighted to Nicholas B. Suntzeff.)

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