Adele Plunkett Receives 2015 Robert L. Brown Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

Dr. Adele Plunkett
Credit: A. Plunket

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) have awarded the 2015 Robert L. Brown Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award to Dr. Adele Plunkett, a Fellow at the European Southern Observatory in Santiago, Chile.

Plunkett is recognized for her study of “molecular clouds in interstellar space that serve as the incubators of clusters of new stars.” Her work demonstrates that the gas flowing out of star-forming regions impacts nearby stellar siblings, supporting our understanding that stars form in families.

The Brown Award, which consists of a $1,000 honorarium, a framed certificate, and an invitation to give a colloquium at the NRAO, is administered by AUI and NRAO on behalf of Brown’s friends and family to honor his life and career. It is given each year to a recent recipient of a doctoral degree “that is substantially based on new observational data obtained at any NRAO facility and considered to be of an exceptionally high scientific standard.”

For her dissertation research, Plunkett used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).

“It was a privilege to observe with ALMA for my thesis knowing that Bob Brown was one of the many people who worked for decades to plan and develop this remarkable instrument,” said Plunkett. “He believed that ALMA would encourage astronomers to explore entirely new scientific areas, and it’s this kind of vision that makes me excited to pursue a career in radio astronomy.”

Robert L. Brown was a scientist at NRAO from 1969 to 2003. During his tenure, he helped to lay the groundwork for ALMA and worked closely with NRAO’s partner institutions to build a strong international research collaboration.

Plunkett received her award and presented her lecture at the NRAO in Charlottesville today.

The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.


Charles Blue, Public Information Officer

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