LAD: 2019 Lab Astrophysics Dissertation Prize Goes to Cameron Mackie

Press Release From: American Astronomical Society
Posted: Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is pleased to announce the recipient of its 2019 Dissertation Prize, given to an individual who has recently completed an outstanding theoretical or experimental doctoral dissertation in laboratory astrophysics. For 2019 the prize goes to Dr. Cameron Mackie for his thesis “The Anharmonic Infrared Spectra of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons” (PAHs). Mackie earned his PhD in science at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.

Mackie works in computational quantum chemistry and molecular modeling. His doctoral research generated critical data needed for a detailed and accurate comparison between quantum chemically computed infrared spectra and astronomical observations. PAHs are organic molecules made of carbon and hydrogen arranged in rings; they occur throughout interstellar and intergalactic space -- and in such earthly substances as cigarette smoke and coal tar. The results of Mackie’s thesis provide an essential tool to astronomers to turn their observations of cosmic PAHs into a detailed understanding of the molecular universe.

The LAD Dissertation Prize includes a cash award, a framed certificate, and an invited lecture by the recipient at a meeting of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division.

The AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD, advances our understanding of the universe through the promotion of fundamental theoretical and experimental research into the underlying processes that drive the cosmos.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS,, established in 1899 and based in Washington, DC, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.

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