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May 7, 2016

University of Massachusetts researcher selected for professorship

Courtesy of Umass.edu

The University of Groningen’s Kapteyn Astronomical Institute has chosen a University of Massachusetts professor to receive one of the highest honors in the field of Astronomy, according to a University press release.

Daniela Calzetti, an astronomy researcher at the university, was named the 2013-14 Blaauw Professor at the Dutch institution for her “excellence in research, broad knowledge of astronomy and an outstanding international status in astronomy,” the release said.

Calling the honor “completely unexpected,” Calzetti said she felt “very honored because there aren’t many such positions for astronomers.

“It’s a great honor for me to be included among the extremely famous and accomplished astronomers who have received this professorship in the past,” Calzetti said in the press release.

As part of the honor, Calzetti will spend four weeks out of the next year in Groningen, Netherlands, where she will deliver a series of four lectures regarding her current research projects to a group of graduate and doctoral students. Furthermore, a day-long symposium that will cover a topic of her choice will be organized.

Calzetti is best known for a tool known as “Calzetti’s Law,” which allowed astronomers to estimate how much information was being lost due to dust that obscured research of very distant galaxies. The tool, developed in the mid-1990s, helped Calzetti gain worldwide recognition as a researcher of galaxy formation, according to the release.

“Daniela’s research on galaxies has been groundbreaking,” said Stephen Schneider, the chairperson of the astronomy department, in the release. “She richly deserves to be added to the extremely distinguished group of astronomers awarded Blaauw Professorships.”

The Blaauw chair and lecture was first instituted in 1997 in tribute to former professor Adriaan Blaauw. Calzetti joins a list of 13 previous winners, and is preceded by Roger Blandford of Stanford University.

Calzetti has been involved in a number of projects that have been tasked with exploring space. Along with galaxy formation, she has also studied star formation and dust properties and their emissions. She has also worked on Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope with projects “aimed at characterizing star formation in the local and medium-distance Universe,” the release said.

“We’re making progress on how to map the formation of new stars in galaxies, that is, asking why stars form in certain places and not others, what factors drive that,” Calzetti said in the release. “There are many different types of galaxies and they seem to form stars according to their own personality.”

“We have many ideas, she said, “but few hard-core facts.”

Jeffrey Okerman can be reached at jokerman@student.umass.edu.

 

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