Astronomer Alicia Soderberg has been awarded the 2009 Annie Jump Cannon Award by the American Astronomical Society "for outstanding research and promise for future research." This award is given annually to a North American female astronomer who is within five years of receiving her PhD, and is named for Harvard astronomer Annie Jump Cannon.
Dr. Soderberg currently holds a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Institute of Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She received her PhD in astrophysics from California Institute of Technology in June 2007 under the supervision of Prof. Shrinivas Kulkarni. Her dissertation was entitled "The Many Facets of Cosmic Explosions" and presented detailed observations across the electromagnetic spectrum of supernovae and the intimately related, exotic class of gamma-ray bursts.
Dr. Soderberg's research focuses on the diversity of massive star deaths with the goal of a developing a clearer understanding of the relationships between the progenitor stars, the supernova explosions, and the compact remnants. In particular, she aims to shed light on the burning question: what is the essential physical ingredient that enables a small fraction of supernovae to produce powerful gamma-ray burst jets? Her research uses data from a suite of ground- and space-based facilities to study the multi-wavelength emission (radio to X-rays) from nearby cosmic explosions, and to decipher clues about progenitor stars in the the last moments of their lives (their mass, radius, possible binarity, and state of evolution).