Professor Isabelle Baraffe

Exeter Astrophysics expert awarded prestigious international prize

Professor Isabelle Baraffe, a leading expert in astrophysics research, has been awarded a prestigious international science prize.

Isabelle Baraffe, Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Exeter*, has been selected as one of three joint recipients of the 2020 Viktor Ambartsumian International Science Prize.

The prize is awarded to “outstanding scientists having significant contribution in physical-mathematical sciences from any country and nationality”. The accolade, which comes with a monetary award of $50 ,000, is awarded by the Republic of Armenia.

The honour was granted to Prof Baraffe for her ‘fundamental contributions to the field of low mass stars, brown dwarfs and exoplanets, and for innovative ideas in the domains of asteroseismology and compact binaries’.

Isabelle Baraffe has produced important work in the fields of stellar and planetary astrophysics, encompassing a wide range of physical domains, from Earth-like planets to very massive stars and compact binaries.

Her work aims at understanding and properly describing the physical processes characteristic of the formation, the structure and the evolution of substellar (planets, brown dwarfs) and stellar objects. Among her results and achievements, emphasize is made on her key contribution in the field of brown dwarfs and exoplanets.

Speaking about the award, Professor Baraffe said: “This is such good news in an otherwise difficult and challenging time. I am very honoured to have been awarded the Viktor Ambartsumian science prize and I would like to share it with my collaborators, postdocs and PhD students who have also contributed to the achievements recognised by this award.”

Professor Ken Evans, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said: “I am delighted that Professor Baraffe has received this outstanding, prestigious award.

"It is testament to the hard work, dedication and innovation that she demonstrates through her outstanding research. Professor Baraffe is a genuine pioneer in astrophysics research, and has played a significant role in enhancing our understanding of worlds found far outside our own solar system.  The award is richly deserved, and colleagues within the College, and wider University, congratulate her on this wonderful success.”

Professor Zhongdong Wang, the incoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean for the College of Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Sciences said: “I am truly delighted that Professor Baraffe has been recognised and rewarded for her outstanding research through this celebrated international prize.  Professor Baraffe is one of the College’s outstanding global ambassadors, and we are proud of the exceptional research she conducts. “

The Viktor Ambartsumian International Science Prize is one of the important awards in astronomy/astrophysics and related sciences. Launched in 2010, the Prize is awarded once every two years.  For more information please visit Viktor Ambartsumian International Prize.

*Prof Baraffe is also affiliated to CRAL/ENS de Lyon, CNRS, France  

Date: 17 July 2020

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