Giovanni Fazio Receives the 2009 Distinguished Research Lecture Award
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Prize Announcement

Dr. Giovanni G. Fazio, Senior Physicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, has been selected to receive the 2009 Secretary’s Distinguished Research Lecture Award of the Smithsonian Institution. His lecture, entitled “Viewing the Universe with Infrared Eyes: The Spitzer Space Telescope,” will be delivered on November 17, 2009, in Washington, DC.

The Distinguished Research Lecture Award recognizes a scholar’s sustained achievement in research, longstanding investment in the Smithsonian, and outstanding contribution to a field, as well as his or her ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience.

Dr. Fazio is the ninth recipient of this award, joining the previous award recipients, Margaret Geller (SAO, 2000), Milo Beach (Freer/Sackler, 2001), Tom Crouch (NASM, 2002), William Fitzhugh (NMNH, 2003), Ellen Miles (NPG, 2004), Bert Drake (SERC, 2005), Storrs Olson (NMNH, 2007), and David DeVorkin (NASM, 2008), in demonstrating the remarkable breadth and caliber of Smithsonian scholarship across the arts, humanities and sciences.

Dr. Fazio received a B.S. degree in physics and a B.A. degree in chemistry from St. Mary's University, Texas, in 1954, and a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959. In that same year, at the University of Rochester, Dr. Fazio pioneered the development of gamma-ray astronomy using balloon-borne telescopes, and was the co-principal investigator for the gamma-ray detector experiment on NASA’s first Orbiting Solar Observatory. Dr. Fazio then joined the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory in 1962, where he initiated a program in gamma-ray astronomy using balloon-borne and ground-based detectors. He also initiated the construction of the 10-meter optical reflector at the F. L. Whipple Observatory in Arizona to search for ultra high-energy cosmic gamma-rays. In the early 1970s, he pioneered the development of large balloon-borne telescopes for far-infrared astronomical observations above the atmosphere, and for 20 years he was principal investigator for the 1-Meter Balloon-Borne Far-Infrared Telescope.

Dr. Fazio was the principal investigator for the first infrared astronomical telescope to fly on the Spacelab II flight of the Space Shuttle in 1985. And, in 1984, he was selected as principal investigator for the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) experiment on the Spitzer Space Telescope, one of NASA's Great Observatories. The Spitzer Space Telescope was launched in August 2003 and continues to produce many important discoveries and spectacular new images of the infrared Universe. Dr. Fazio was also a co-investigator on the Submillimeter Wave Astronomical Satellite, which was launched in 1998.

His current research interests include the development of infrared instrumentation and the use of infrared array cameras on ground-based and space telescopes to observe galaxy formation and evolution in the early Universe, ultraluminous galaxies, star formation and evolution, and brown dwarfs.

Dr. Fazio is currently a member of the Space Telescope Institute Council (STIC), the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, and the Optical Society of America. He is also a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Royal Astronomical Society. He has been a member of numerous national and international advisory committees and is an author on more than 350 publications in scientific journals and books. Dr. Fazio has received four NASA Group Achievement Awards, and in 1998 he received the Tsiolkovsky Medal from Russia’s State Museum of the History of Cosmonautics. In 2005, he received the UNICO National Marconi Science Medal and the NASA Public Service Medal and in 2008, the Royal Society of London/COSPAR Massey Award (Gold Medal) for outstanding achievements in space science.