Thursday, June 25, 2020

Nominate our field’s best for the 2021 AAS Prizes and Honors by July 14**

Dr. Beth Brown, NASA astrophysicist (1969-2008). Learn more about the Beth Brown Memorial Award. Image credit: Jay S. Friedlander, NASA

By Aparna Venkatesan (U. of San Francisco), Ed Bertschinger (MIT), Dara Norman (NOIRLab), Sarah Tuttle (U. of Washington, Seattle)

The COVID19 pandemic and the nationwide protests for racial justice have revealed the longstanding injustices and inequities in our society, as well as in academia and the sciences. The pandemic, which shows no signs of slowing down, has already had a documented fallout on academe’s most vulnerable populations, including women, underrepresented minorities and especially women of color, as they try to navigate a radically altered higher education landscape, canceled interviews, and lost professional or research opportunities. Those most at risk are among our most talented, whose voices we most need in our profession in the years to come.

How can we collectively address this? As a first step, consider nominating a minoritized colleague, mentor or mentee, or nominating yourself, for a prize or honor offered in your department, institute, agency, or professional society. Like all privilege, awards and prizes tend to accumulate in certain institutional tiers or scientific lineages. At present, the pandemic and other current crises have amplified the lack of privilege more than ever. We can make a difference by nominating a colleague or mentee who is doing excellent and perhaps under-valued work, who is from - or works with - marginalized communities, or is a load-bearing circuit in their institution and our profession through the many roles and identities in their leadership and service, e.g. an indigenous astronomer, or a minoritized astronomer working on accessibility. The honor of a prize or award may be one of the factors that helps our most vulnerable colleagues navigate careers roiled by current circumstances. If you recognize yourself in the previous sentences, once again - please consider a self-nomination!

In the next week alone, we can make a difference by nominating a deserving colleague by July 14** for the 2021 AAS Prizes and Awards, as well as for AAS Fellows. Please take the time to prepare a thoughtful nomination package worthy of your nominee, that follows the stated rubrics/guidelines. Nominations can be done by AAS members online through a new online nomination system. Details and guidelines are at:

The AAS “specifically encourages nominations of, and self-nominations from, astronomers who are members of marginalized groups, including people of color, people with disabilities, and sexual and gender minorities.”

**June 29, 2020 The title and text of this post has been edited to reflect the sumbission deadline extension. The new deadline is now July 14, 2020 at 11:59PM EDT.

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