Star student takes out coveted Bok Prize

9 May 2011

The judges said Barnaby Norris's thesis was a "clear and deserving winner".
The judges said Barnaby Norris's thesis was a "clear and deserving winner".

Barnaby Norris, an astronomy student based within the University of Sydney's School of Physics, has won the 2011 Bok Prize for the Best Honours Thesis in astronomy across all Australian universities.

The Bok Prize is awarded annually by the Astronomical Society of Australia to recognise outstanding research in astronomy by an honours student at an Australian university.

Much of the matter that forms new stars and planets - and even our own bodies - is produced in the last gasps of dying giant stars. Barnaby's thesis helps answer the longstanding mystery of how these dying stars eject their matter into the galaxy.

"I am interested in how old stars are recycled to make a new generation of stars, planets and all the matter that makes up the universe," said Barnaby.

Barnaby's outstanding honours research won in the face of a particularly strong 2011 field. The judges said nominations received for the 2011 Bok Prize were of an excellent standard, but they were particularly impressed by Barnaby's thesis. "You were a clear and deserving winner," the judges commented.

Barnaby, who is now a PhD student at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy based at the University of Sydney, said he was excited to have won the Bok Prize: "This came as a great surprise. Given all the amazing work done by Australian astronomers in this field I feel really honoured to be selected."

The Bok Prize was established to honour Dr Bart Jan Bok, the Director of Mount Stromlo Observatory from 1957 to 1966. Dr Bok energetically promoted the undergraduate and graduate study of astronomy in Australia and set up the Graduate School of Astronomy at the Australian National University.

The prize consists of the Bok Medal together with an award of $500 and ASA membership for the following calendar year. The recipient is invited to present a paper on their research at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the Astronomical Society of Australia, where the prize will be presented.

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