A University of St Andrews solar physicist is to be awarded one of the world’s most prestigious accolades for his shining contribution to solar theory.
Professor Eric Priest of the School of Mathematics and Statistics will be awarded the Hale Prize 2002, usually awarded every two years by the American Astronomical Society (AAS). It is the highest award of the AAS for a solar physicist and is normally awarded at the peak of a career for a lifetime’s work.
As part of the ceremony at the annual meeting of the Society in Albuquerque, New Mexico in June, Professor Priest will be awarded a medal, honorarium and citation in recognition of his contributions. He will also give the Hale Prize Lecture on “Our Enigmatic Sun” in which he will aim to communicate the excitement and vitality of solar physics and its central importance for astronomy as a whole.
It is highly unusual for the Hale Prize to go to a non-US citizen. Indeed, there has only been one other UK holder of the Prize, namely Professor Gough from Cambridge. According to the AAS, Professor Priest is being singled out for “his seminal contributions to investigations of the role of the magnetic field in solar activity and for his tireless advocacy of solar physics in all corners of the world.”
Professor Priest said, “When I heard the news I was flabbergasted. I had been unaware that my name had been proposed and so it came out of the blue and is a great honour and privilege.”
As well as building up, from scratch, one of the finest solar theory groups in the world, Professor Priest has worked hard over many years to help many research students and postdocs – 30 of them now have permanent lectureships or professorships in universities. He has also strived to further the subject in general and to communicate it to astronomers and solar system scientists worldwide. Professor Priest has also written/edited nearly 20 books and nearly 400 research papers including a research monograph on “Solar Magnetohydrodynamics” which has become the standard in the field and recently a 600-page book published by Cambridge University Press on “Magnetic Reconnection”.
NOTE TO EDITORS – Emailable picture of Professor Priest at work available from Claire Grainger – contact details below.
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