Sydney Astronomy student wins coveted Bok Prize

9 May 2011

Barnaby Norris, an astronomy student based within the School of Physics has won the 2011 Bok Prize for the Best Honours Thesis in astronomy across all Australian universities.

The Bok Prize is awarded annually by the Astronomical Society of Australia to recognise outstanding research in astronomy by an Honours student at an Australian university.

The citation notes that Barnaby's outstanding Honours research: "A study of AGB circumstellar dust shells using optical polarimetric interferometry" won in the face of a particularly strong 2011 field.

The judges said that while nominations received for the 2011 Bok Prize were of an excellent standard they were highly impressed by Barnaby's thesis, stating, "You were a clear and deserving winner."

Barnaby, who is now a PhD student at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy that is based in the School, said he was excited to have won the Bok Prize, "This came as a great surprise; given all the amazing work done by Australian astronomers in this field, I feel really honoured to be selected!"

Much of the matter that forms new stars and planets, and even our own bodies, is produced in the lasts gasps of dying giant stars. Barnaby's thesis helps answer the long-standing mystery of how these dying stars eject their matter into the galaxy.

The Bok Prize was established to honour Dr Bart Jan Bok, the Director of Mount Stromlo Observatory from 1957 to 1966. Dr Bok energetically promoted the undergraduate and graduate study of astronomy in Australia and set up the Graduate School of Astronomy at the Australian National University.

In addition to his many scientific achievements, he was also a talented populariser of astronomy and is particularly remembered for his entertaining broadcasts on ABC radio.

The prize consists of the Bok Medal together with an award of $500 and ASA membership for the following calendar year. The recipient is invited to present a paper on their Honours research at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia, where the prize will be presented.

Warm congratulations to Barnaby!

Contact: Alison Muir

Phone: 02 9036 5194

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