Honorary Members

  Dr. Oscar Álvarez-Pomares (Cuba)

Dr Oscar A. Álvarez-Pomares, now with the Cuban National Academy of Sciences, a respected radio astronomer and the Cuban National Node for IYA2009, during which he lead the project to create the new Havana Planetarium, which opened in January 2010.

Dr. Oscar Álvarez has been a constant supporter of amateur astronomy in Cuba. Under his leadership as Director of Astronomy at IGA, he organized the IAU’s XVI International School of Young Astronomers in 1989, recognized as one of the most important milestones related to astronomy outreach in the country. Oscar is a natural communicator, with the rare ability to explain difficult concepts in simple words. So, in the media, his person is recognized as the visible face of Astronomy in Cuba. In that discipline, he is regarded as an effective science communicator and his participation is requested in almost every science/pseudoscience debate, which explains his extraordinary popularity beyond scientific environments to become one of the most acknowledged scientists in the country.

Dr. Álvarez was nominated by Dave Chapman.

  Dr. William Bottke (USA)

Dr. William Bottke is the Director of the Department for Space Studies at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado. Bottke is also the Director of the Center for Lunar Origin and Evolution (CLOE) of NASA’s Lunar Science Institute. His research interests include the collisional and dynamical evolution of small body populations throughout the solar system (e.g., asteroids, comets, irregular satellites, Kuiper belt objects, meteoroids, dust) and the formation and bombardment history of planetesimals, planets and satellites. He is also interested in how near-Earth objects (NEOs) are delivered from their source regions in various asteroid and cometary populations to their observed orbits. He received a B.S. with High Distinction in Physics and Astrophysics from the University of Minnesota in 1988, and a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1995. The University of Arizona also awarded him the Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award in 1995. Bottke was a Texaco Prize Fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 1996-1997, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University from 1997-2000. Asteroid 1995 HN2 was named (7355) Bottke in 1999. In 2011, he was awarded the first Paolo Farinella Prize at the joint EPSC-DPS 2011 meeting in Nantes, France by the University of Pisa, the Space Academy Foundation, IASF-INAF and IFSI-INAF (Rome).

  Dr. David L. Crawford (USA)

Dr. Crawford, a native of Pennsylvania, is Emeritus Astronomer at Kitt Peak National Observatory and National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Arizona. From 1963 to 1973, he was Project Manager of the 4-metre Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak, and of its twin, the Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. His research involves galactic structure, stellar photometry, observational instruments and techniques, and light-pollution abatement. Dr. Crawford is widely-known as the co-founder and Executive-Director of the International Dark-Sky Association. He has worked tirelessly to promote energy-efficient, glare-free lighting, to the benefit of the public, the environment, and astronomy. Dr. Crawford has presented the IDA's message of responsible lighting to meetings of the RASC.

  Dra. Julieta Fierro (Mexico)

Dra. Julieta Fierro, "the Carl Sagan of Mexico", is a professor, Institute of Astronomy, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), and one of the world's foremost communicators of astronomy. Her graduate degree was in astronomy, and she teaches regularly at UNAM, and has carried out research on interstellar matter. Her contributions to Spanish-language science education and outreach are prodigious – over 40 books, directorship of a major science centre Universum in Mexico City (and consultant to other science centres), numerous radio and TV series, programs and appearances, and countless public lectures, including one to 100,000 schoolchildren in a stadium! She works extensively with schoolteachers and students, giving workshops, developing resources, and writing books and articles for young people. She is constantly innovating; most recently, she has collaborated with a dance company to present astronomy through that medium. Her public presentations are legendary – highly kinetic and engaging. But unlike some public figures, she radiates a warm and generous personality. She has served nationally as President of the Mexican Academy of Professors of Natural Science, and the Mexican Society of Science Museums, and internationally as President of the International Astronomical Union's Commission on Astronomy Education and Development. Her many national and international awards include honorary doctorates, the Klumpke-Roberts Prize of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the prestigious UNESCO Kalinga Prize for promoting public understanding of science, and membership in Mexico's Academia de la Lengua -- an honour usually reserved for scholars in the humanities.

Citation prepared by Dr. Percy from information adapted from Dr. Fierro's UNAM Web site.

  Professor Andrew Fraknoi (USA)

Dr. Fraknoi was nominated by Mary Lou Whitehorne, who has had occasion to meet Dr. Fraknoi and recommends him on the basis of his work in Education and Public Outreach.

“His work represents the global gold standard in astronomy education and outreach. He has inspired many to follow in his footsteps. I have had the pleasure of meeting him a few times, and of hearing him speak. He is nothing short of phenomenal - passionate, inspiring, dedicated and caring. I have used, and marvelled at, his work for over two decades. He has been my personal role model for over 20 years and is unquestionably deserving of honorary membership status. A not insignificant added benefit is a further strengthening of ties between the RASC and the ASP.” - MLW

Andrew Fraknoi is a science educator who is known for his skill in interpreting astronomical discoveries and ideas in everyday language. His accomplishments include:

  • Chair of the Astronomy Program at Foothill College near San Francisco
  • Professor of the Year in 2007 for the state of California
  • Over 400 public lectures
  • Executive Director of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for 14 years.
  • Founded and directed Project ASTRO, brings astronomers into 4th - 9th grade classrooms.
  • He is a prolific author, speaker on news and talk programs.
  • Board member of the SETI institute.
  • Fellow of the Committee for Scientific Inquiry, specializing in debunking astrology.
  • Fellow of the California Academy of Science. In 2009, he served as national secretary for the program committee for the International Year of Astronomy, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Galileo’s turning the telescope to the heavens.

Educated at Harvard and the University of California, Berkeley, Fraknoi has taught astronomy and physics at San Francisco State University, the City College of San Francisco, Canada College, and several campuses of the University of California Extension Division.

Biographical information from informalscience.org

  Dr. Wendy Freedman (USA)

Dr. Freedman (born July 17, 1957) is easy to perceive as a successor to Allan Sandage in the field of cosmology. She had a disagreement of some standing with Sandage about what the eventual determination of the Hubble Constant would be. Sandage said it would be close to 50, Gerard de Vaucouleurs said it would be 100, and Freedman's eventual solution of close to 75 was supported by Hubble Space Telescope Cepheid data.

Freedman's studies up to her Ph.D. were at the University of Toronto. In 1980 she was the first woman astronomer to do an observing run with the Canada-France Hawaii Telescope. She also did visiting work during her studies at Mont-Mégantic, Las Campanas (UTSO and Dupont) and Kitt Peak (Mayall). The early-1980s work involved CCDs, although some follow-up work involved plate scanning. She received an Amelia Earhart Fellowship from Zonta International in 1981. She married fellow U of T astronomer Barry Madore in 1985, after a post-doctoral fellowship at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena. Soon after, she was the first woman on permanent staff at Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. She is now the John & Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago.

Freedman is often interviewed about the Hubble Constant and cosmology in general. As the director of Carnegie Observatories she was also the chair of the Giant Magellan Observatory organization, which plans to build a compound telescope of seven 8.5-metre mirrors on Cerro Las Campanas (By the end of 2021 the sixth mirror segment had been cast.)

Her first RASC lecture was to the Toronto Centre on 23 October 1981 on the subject of Evolution of Galaxies. Her first contribution to JRASC was in 1982. She gave a joint lecture at the Royal Canadian Institute and RASC Toronto Centre on 24 Jan 1993, 'Measuring the Size and Expansion Rate of the Universe'. She was the Helen Sawyer Hogg Lecturer at the 2000 General Assembly in Winnipeg, speaking about the Age and Size of the Universe. From 2005 to 2007 she was the honorary president of the RASC Toronto Centre.

  Jean Meeus (Belgium)

Jean Meeus is a Belgian meteorologist and astronomer. Born in 1928, Jean Meeus studied mathematics at the University of Louvain (Leuven) in Belgium, receiving the Degree of Licentiate in 1953. From then until his retirement in 1993, he was a meteorologist at Brussels Airport. His special interest is in spherical and mathematical astronomy. He is the co-author of "Canon of Solar Eclipses" (1966 and 1983), and "Canon of Lunar Eclipses" (1979). His "Astronomical Formulae for Calculators" (1979, 1982, 1985, and 1988) has been widely acclaimed by both amateur and professional astronomers. Further works include "Elements of Solar Eclipses 1951-2200" (1989), "Transits" (1989), "Astronomical Algorithms" (1991 and 1999), "Astronomical Tables of the Sun, Moon and Planets" (1983 and 1995), "Mathematical Astronomy Morsels" (1997), "More Mathematical Astronomy Morsels" (2002), and "Mathematical Astronomy Morsels III" (2004).

  Dr. P.J.E. Peebles (USA)

Dr. Phillip James ("Jim") Edwin Peebles is a native of Winnipeg and a graduate of the University of Manitoba (B.Sc. in physics, 1958). He received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1962, and currently is a professor of physics at Princeton. In the mid-1960s, he and his colleagues predicted that thermal electromagnetic radiation from the very early Universe should be detectable by radio telescopes, that this radiation should be isotropic, and that it should have the spectrum of a black body only a few degrees above absolute zero. Coincidentally, about the same time (in 1965), Penzias and Wilson of the Bell Telephone Laboratories accidentally discovered this radiation. Dr. Peebles has investigated characteristics of the radiation and the clustering of galaxies. He has calculated the universal abundances of helium and other light elements, demonstrating agreement between Big Bang theory and observation. His two books on physical cosmology had a significant impact in convincing physicists that the time had come to study cosmology as a respectable branch of physics. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1982.

Professor Peebles was the joint recipient of the The Nobel Prize in Physics 2019, "for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth's place in the cosmos", with one half awarded to him "for theoretical discoveries in physical cosmology", and the other half going jointly to Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz "for the discovery of an exoplanet orbiting a solar-type star". Professor Peebles' Cosmology’s Century: An Inside History of Our Modern Understanding of the Universe is scheduled to appear later in that year.

  Dr. Lisa Randall (USA)

Dr. Lisa Randall is Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, where her research examines connections between high-energy physics and cosmology, with an emphasis on gravity, dark matter and the possible role of extra dimensions in our Universe.. Randall was born in New York City and attended the Stuyvesant High School, where she was a winner in the 1980 Westinghouse Science Talent Search. Randall went on to study at Harvard University where she earned a BA (1983) and PhD (1987). She went on to acquire numerous honorary degrees. After appointments at MIT and Princeton University, Dr Randall returned to Harvard. Honours for Dr Randall include:

  • An Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship;
  • A National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award;
  • A DOE Outstanding Junior Investigator Award;
  • The Premio Caterina Tomassoni e Felice Pietro Chisesi Award (University of Rome, 2003);
  • The Klopsteg Award (American Association of Physics Teachers, 2006) for teaching; and
  • The Julius Lilienfeld Prize (American Physical Society, 2007) for her research and for outreach.

Dr. Randall is well known to the public through her many appearances on radio and television, and her lectures and writing. She has received recognition as an influential scientist from SEED magazine, Newsweek, TIME and Esquire. Dr Randall's books for a popular audience include "Warped Passages" (2005), "Knocking on Heaven’s Door" (2011), "Higgs Discovery: The Power of Empty Space" (2013) and "Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs" (2015).

  Dr. Sara Seager (Canada)

Professor Sara Seager was born and grew up in Toronto, Canada. Among her first memories is a trip to a “star party” with her father, to see the moon through a telescope—spectacular! Professor Seager graduated from Jarvis Collegiate Institute, and studied at the University of Toronto. After graduating with a B.Sc. in the Math and Physics Specialist Program at the U of T, Seager attended the Ph.D. program in Astronomy at Harvard.

Dr. Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist at MIT. Her science research focuses on theory, computation, and data analysis of exoplanets. Her research has introduced many new ideas to the field of exoplanet characterization, including work that led to the first detection of an exoplanet atmosphere. Professor Seager's space instrumentation group is focusing on "ExoplanetSat," a 3U CubeSat capable of high-precision pointing, with the science goal of detecting small transiting exoplanets orbiting bright, sun-like stars. The prototype is intended to be the first of a planned fleet of nanosatellites, aimed to demonstrate the graduated growth of a constellation as a new paradigm for space science missions. In addition to being the PI of ExoplanetSat, Professor Seager is co-leading CommCube, a platform to demonstrate novel small satellite space communication technology, and is involved in the MIT-Harvard REXIS instrument on NASA's OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.
Before joining MIT in 2007, Professor Seager spent four years on the senior research staff at the Carnegie Institution of Washington preceded by three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. Her Ph.D. is from Harvard University. Professor Seager is on the advisory board for Planetary Resources and the Rosalind Franklin Society. Professor Seager is the 2012 recipient of the the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, the 2007 recipient of the American Astronomical s Helen B. Warner Prize, and is an AAAS Fellow. She has been recognized in the media by Popular Science Magazine's Fifth Annual Brilliant Ten in 2006, Discover Magazine's "Best 20 under 40" in 2008, Nature's Top Ten in 2011, and Time Magazine's 25 Most Influential in Space in 2012.

  Dr. William P. Sheehan (USA)

Dr. Sheehan is a practicing psychiatrist, amateur astronomer, experienced Mars observer, a contributing editor to Sky & Telescope, historian of astronomy, and first-rate author. His books include, "Planets & Perception" (1988), "Worlds in the Sky" (1992), the first biography of one of the greatest observers of all time, "The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard" (1995), "The Planet Mars" (1996), "In Search of Planet Vulcan" (with Richard Baum, 1997), "Epic Moon" (with T.A. Dobbins, 2001), "Mars" (with S.J. O'Meara, 2001), and "Transits of Venus" (with J. Westfall, 2004). He is currently working on a biography of W.W. Morgan. Sheehan is noted for his meticulous research and eloquent prose. His biography of Barnard is a classic.

  Dr. R. Brent Tully (USA)

R. Brent Tully is an astronomer at the Institute for Astronomy in Honolulu, Hawaii. His specialty is the astrophysics of galaxies. He, along with J. Richard Fisher, proposed the now-famous Tully-Fisher relation in a paper, A New Method of Determining Distances to Galaxies, published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 54, No. 3, in February, 1977. He also published the book The Nearby Galaxies Catalog in 1988, with 3-D locations for the closest 68,000 galaxies to Earth (this information taken from Wikipedia.