American Astronomical Society Confers Highest Honor on McDonald Observatory Director David Lambert

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Dr. David Lambert, director of The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory, has been awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, the highest honor that may conferred on an astronomer by the American Astronomical Society (AAS).

The AAS is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America, with about 5,000 scientist members.

Lambert holds the university’s Isabel McCutcheon Harte Centennial Chair in Astronomy.

The American Astronomical Society said the Russell Lectureship is conferred on Lambert “for contributions in the field of stellar spectroscopy and abundances, which have profoundly influenced our knowledge of stellar evolution, nucleosynthesis, and their effects on the chemical evolution of the universe."

The Lectureship is named for the Princeton University astronomer who pioneered the study of stellar evolution.  It is presented, the society said, “on the basis of a lifetime of eminence in astronomical research.”

In four decades of research in astronomical spectroscopy, Lambert has published 450 papers on topics from the composition of the Sun, molecular emission by comets, the chemistry of the diffuse interstellar medium, and stellar nucleosynthesis and evolution. 

In 1987, his work on the quantitative analysis of stellar spectra was recognized with the Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics awarded by the American Institute for Physics and the American Astronomical Society. He has held visiting professorships at the European Southern Observatory in Garching, Germany, the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the Indian Institute of Astrophysics in Bangalore, India.

Lambert came to The University of Texas at Austin as a faculty associate in 1969, was appointed associate professor in 1970, professor in 1974 and the Isabel McCutcheon Harte Chair in 1987. He was educated in England, obtaining his bachelor’s and doctor’s degrees from the University of Oxford. Between Oxford and Texas, he was a research fellow of the California Institute of Technology and the Mount Wilson and Palomar observatories. He has been director of McDonald Observatory since 2003.

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