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Joss Bland-Hawthorn wins the 2012 Jackson-Gwilt Medal



13 January 2012

Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, from the School of Physics, has been named as the winner of the 2012 Jackson-Gwilt Medal, announced at the Royal Astronomical Society's annual meeting in the UK on 13 January 2012.

The Jackson-Gwilt Medal is one of four major awards offered by the Royal Astronomical Society and has been awarded roughly every two years since 1897 for the invention, improvement, or development of astronomical instrumentation or techniques, and for achievement in observational astronomy. The medal is named after Hannah Jackson née Gwilt, who was active in astronomy in the 1800s in London.

Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, from the School of Physics, has been named as the winner of the 2012 Jackson-Gwilt Medal awarded by the Royal Astronomical Society. He is only the third Australian to win the medal in its 115 year history.
Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, from the School of Physics, has been named as the winner of the 2012 Jackson-Gwilt Medal awarded by the Royal Astronomical Society. He is only the third Australian to win the medal in its 115 year history.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn will receive his medal from Professor Roger L. Davies, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, at the National Astronomical Meeting in Manchester, UK, on 28 March.

"I feel very honoured to receive the Jackson-Gwilt Medal for my work in developing technology for space and ground based astronomy. The award is also recognition of Australia's long history in innovation in astronomy," said Professor Bland-Hawthorn.

Only the third Australian to win the medal in its 115 year history, Professor Bland-Hawthorn was selected as the 2012 winner by the Royal Astronomical Society for his work developing revolutionary technologies for astronomy which have led to new directions in astronomy and astrophysics.

"I've been working in the area of astronomy technology for the past twenty years, but my most recent developments have concentrated on new instruments which make use of photonic materials and devices," said Professor Bland-Hawthorn.

"We now call this area astrophotonics - a field that lies at the interface of astronomy and photonics. Astrophotonics as a discipline was featured in the February 2009 issue of Optics Express, when I published a paper with my colleague Pierre Kern on the new era for astronomical instruments offered by astrophotonics," explained Professor Bland-Hawthorn.

"Some of the devices I've worked on have their origins in the telecommunications industry, but other devices, like photonic lanterns, are unique to astrophotonics."

The Jackson-Gwilt Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society will be presented to Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, from the School of Physics, in the UK on 28 March 2012.
The Jackson-Gwilt Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society will be presented to Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, from the School of Physics, in the UK on 28 March 2012.

In 2011 alone, the Anglo-Australian Telescope commissioned four revolutionary astrophotonic instruments which Professor Bland-Hawthorn has been working on - GNOSIS, SAMI, Dragonfly and PIMMS. All of these concepts will undergo more extensive development in the next few years.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn is also now exploring astrophotonic technologies in the context of space instrumentation, with his involvement in a collaboration between the School of Physics in the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies at the University of Sydney.

Professor Bland-Hawthorn is a Federation Fellow in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. He is a member of the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and co-founder of the Institute of Photonics and Optical Science.

The two previous Australian winners of the Jackson-Gwilt Medal are John Tebbut in 1905 for his work in astronomy based in the Hawkesbury and David Malin in 1986 for his lifetime contributions in wide-field photographic astronomy.

Read more about the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and other Royal Astronomical Society awards at: www.ras.org.uk/awards-and-grants/awards


Contact: Katynna Gill

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