Ewine F. van Dishoeck receives 2018 James Craig Watson Medal
On 17 January 2018, the the US National Academy of Sciences announced that Ewine F. van Dishoeck, Leiden Observatory, Leiden University and Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, will receive the 2018 James Craig Watson Medal. She is recognized as a world leader in the fields of molecular astronomy and astrochemistry, employing observations, theory and experiments to improve our understanding of how molecules, stars and planets form.
With her studies, van Dishoeck elucidated the interplay between chemical processes and the thermal structure of star- and planet-forming regions. Her studies have also tackled the chemistry, growth and photoprocessing of interstellar ices, a key step in the eventual establishment of the composition of protoplanetary disks, comets and then planetary bodies. This includes linking observations and experiments on the formation of complex prebiotic molecules under very cold conditions. She and her colleagues have also quantified the cold and hot water reservoirs in disks, from young to old, relevant for understanding our own origins.
The James Craig Watson Medal is presented every two years for outstanding contributions to the science of astronomy and carries with it a gold-plated bronze medal, a $25,000 prize, and $50,000 to support the recipient’s research. The Watson Medal was established by the Canadian-American astronomer, James Craig Watson. Watson is credited with discovering twenty-two asteroids in his lifetime. He published many articles and wrote A Popular Treatise on Comets (1861) and Theoretical Astronomy (1868).