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Award Winners: Women in Planetary Science

July 3, 2014

Amelia Earhart Fellowship (Zonta)
Congratulations to Tanya Harrison! She is just one of 35 women, and the only planetary scientist this year, to be selected as a 2014 Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellow.  Tonya is a graduate student at the University of Western Ontario and studies mass movement processes – landslides – on Earth and Mars. In particular, she is interested in martian geomorphology and terrestrial analogues, spectroscopy, and glaciology; her PhD advisors are Dr. Gordon Osinski and Dr. Livio Tornabene. Previously, Tonya was a member of the science operations team for NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Context Camera (CTX) and Mars Color Imager (MARCI) at Malin Space Science Systems (MSSS).  While working at MSSS, Tanya was interviewed by Susan Niebur in 2010. Tanya is also a professional photographer.

A long-lasting urban legend is that planetary scientists aren’t eligible for the AE Fellowship, but this is certainly not the case. When asked why she applied for this fellowship, Tanya replied that she was encouraged by another planetary scientist, Nina Lanza, who previously received the fellowship. “I didn’t think that my work fit what they were looking for since I’m technically neither an engineer nor in aerospace … I applied for the fellowship last year and didn’t receive it… This year I proposed a different project and had a 4.0 GPA in my Ph.D. program. Oddly enough the proposal I wrote this year was much less engineering-related than last year, but my career goals were the same – becoming the principal investigator (PI) of an instrument aboard a planetary mission – so I think the stronger GPA had a lot to do with their decision.”

The odds are good, ladies! This year, 168 women applied and 35 fellowships were awarded.  (Over 980 fellowships have been awarded in its 75-year history.) Dr. Sharon Langenbeck, Chairman of the Zonta International Amelia Earhart Fellowship Committee, told me that there was an unusually high number of applicants this year; normally the number is around 125.  So, go for it! Application information can be found here, and the deadline for next year’s awards is mid-November.

Are you an Amelia Earhart Fellow? If so, comment below with your name, year, and research area. You may also be interested in the AE Fellow LinkedIn Group.


Harold Masursky Award (Division of Planetary Science)
Congratulations to Dr. Athena Coustenis, who was recognized for her for outstanding service to planetary science and exploration. From the DPS announcement: “More than any other member of our community, Dr. Coustenis contributed to promoting and facilitating international collaboration in planetary science. Athena has played a major role in organizing the dissemination of scientific results at international conferences, including those of the European Geophysical Union, the International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences, the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society, the DPS/AAS, the European Planetary Science Congress, as well as the AGU Goldschmidt conferences and the International Planetary Probe workshops. She has rendered outstanding service to the international planetary science community through a combination of managerial, leadership, programmatic, and public service activities. Dr. Coustenis is currently Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France, and an astrophysicist with the Laboratoire d’Etudes Spatiales et d’Instrumentation en Astrophysique (LESIA) of Paris Observatory, France.”

The 2014 DPS prizes will be presented at the 46th annual DPS meeting in Tucson, Arizona, in November.  Nominations for the next round of DPS awards will be due in June 2015.

One Comment leave one →
  1. astrodivanz permalink
    July 21, 2014 7:13 am

    Shortly after this post went live, COSPAR announced its annual award winners. Dr. Carle Pieters (Brown University) received the International Cooperation Medal. Read the press release and citation here: .

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