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Cornell University astronomer recognized for outstanding science achievement

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Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor of astronomy and director of Cornell's Carl Sagan Institute, has been name the inaugural recipient of the Barrie Jones Award by The Open University (OU), United Kingdom, and the Astrobiology Society of Britain (ASB). The award will be presented in a ceremony on July 7 at the OU campus.

The Barrie Jones Award recognises an individual's contribution to society and outstanding achievement in science and outreach through work relating to astrobiology. It was established by the OU Department of Physical Sciences in partnership with the ASB with the legacy of the late Barrie Jones (1941-2014), an astrobiologist at the OU, who dedicated much of his career to public engagement and outreach.

In a statement, the award committee said that Kaltenegger was nominated "for her world-leading research into exoplanetary science (searching for planets orbiting other stars); in particular, the possibility for habitable conditions on these planets…[she] actively engages with and inspires the next generation of young scientists."

Added Stephen Serjeant, Head of Astronomy at the OU, "Lisa, with her superb track record in engaging the public in science and inspiring future generations, makes her a very worthy winner of the Barrie Jones Award."

Kaltenegger said that she was honoured to be selected for the award, which recognises excellence in science as well as science communication. "As Director of the Carl Sagan Institute, the combination is very dear to me."

Rocky planets and super-Earths atmospheres in the habitable zone, as well as the spectral fingerprint of exoplanets that can be detected with the next generation of telescopes, are Kaltenegger's main research interests. Her honors include being named one of America's Young Innovators by Smithsonian Magazine, being selected as one of the European Commission's Role Models for Women in Science and Research, and receiving the Heinz Meier Leibnitz Prize for Physics of Germany.

Upon recieving the Barrie Jones Award, Kaltenegger will deliver a public lecture on her research, which will be broadcast live on July 7 at 10:00 am EST from The Open University campus.

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Daryl Lovell
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