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Eric Feigelson Awarded Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement

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26 August 2014 —
Eric FeigelsonEric Feigelson

Eric Feigelson, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and of statistics at Penn State, has been selected to receive the 2014 Penn State Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in the physical sciences. The award recognizes scholarly or creative excellence represented by a single contribution or a series of contributions around a coherent theme. A committee of faculty peers reviews nominations and selects winners of the award.

Feigelson is widely recognized as one of the world's experts on the application of advanced statistical methods to astronomical data sets. Together with G. Jogesh Babu, professor of statistics at Penn State, he has organized international conferences for researchers and summer schools for graduate students. Feigelson and Babu also authored a text, Modern Statistical Methods for Astronomy with R Applications, which won the 2012 American Publishers Award for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE) in the cosmology and astronomy category.

Feigelson also has made a number of fundamental contributions in advancing the understanding of star formation through studies at X-ray wavelengths. He led the Chandra Orion Ultradeep Project (COUP) that produced comprehensive data on the X-ray activity of young stars in the Orion Nebula, the nearest star-forming region to Earth located in the constellation Orion. He also led the Massive Young Star Forming Complex Study in Infrared and X-ray (MYStIX) project, which traces populations of young stars in massive star-forming nebulae. He is a member of the team, led by Gordon Garmire, Evan Pugh Professor Emeritus of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State, that developed the primary instrument for NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

Feigelson's previous awards and honors include being named an Institute for Scientific Information Thomson Reuters Highly Cited Researcher in Space Sciences in 2009. In 2007, he was a member of NASA's Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Explorer mission that received the American Astronomical Society's Bruno Rossi Prize. Also in 2007, the University Council for Educational Administration recognized Feigelson with the UCEA Mid-Atlantic Region University Continuing Education Association Award for exemplary non-credit program development for his Summer School in Statistics for Astronomers III. In 1999 and 2000, he received the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Group Achievement and Teamwork Awards as a part of NASA's Swift satellite team. In 1991, he received the Penn State Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Certificate for Distinguished Teaching. In 1984, he received the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award. In 1980, he was part of the Einstein Observatory team that received the NASA Group Achievement Award.

Feigelson has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles on topics ranging from the chemistry of interstellar materials to X-rays from jets produced by massive black holes. With Babu, he has written or edited seven books on astrostatistics. He is the inaugural chair of the International Astronomical Union Working Group in Astrostatistics and Astroinformatics, co-editor of the online Astrostatistics and Astroinformatics Portal, and has served as a Scientific Editor of the Astrophysical Journal since 2006.

Before joining the Penn State faculty in 1982, Feigelson was a postdoctoral scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received a doctoral degree in astronomy from Harvard University in 1980 and a bachelor's degree in astronomy from Haverford College in 1975.


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