C54 announces the award of the Michelson and Fizeau prizes

13 July 2012

The International Astronomical Union Commission 54, Optical and Infrared Interferometry, is pleased to announce the award of the Michelson and Fizeau prizes.

The Fizeau Prize for 2012 is awarded for lifetime achievement to Professor Charles Hard Townes for his long-term commitment to and support of optical interferometry, especially in the mid-infrared, as evidenced by his work on the McMath prototype and Berkeley Infrared Spatial Interferometers. Professor Townes' development of heterodyne techniques, high-spectral resolution and closure phases at the ISI has produced dozens of highly cited and transformative papers in the studies of dust production and time-evolution of evolved stars. Further, Professor Townes' support and mentoring of 27 doctoral students and dozens of postdoctoral and junior colleagues, many of whom are well-established interferometrists and active researchers today, will leave an enduring legacy for the field of optical/infrared interferometry.

The Michelson Investigator Prize for 2012 is awarded to Doctor Olivier Chesneau for his recent contributions to stellar astrophysics. In the 10 years since his PhD, Olivier has vigorously exploited optical interferometry for the study of stellar environments - disks, winds, and nebulae - in young, early type and evolved stars through the latest stages of stellar evolution.

In particular, he used a variety of interferometric data at very high resolution to model the close and dusty environment of the eta Car nebula, and recurrent novae RS Oph and T Pyx. Olivier has contributed as first author and as collaborator in more then 70 refereed publications in 10 years.

The Fizeau prize is sponsored by the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur.  The Michelson prize is sponsored by the Mount Wilson Institute.  Both prizes are administered jointly by the sponsors and the Commission, and are offered in order to provide recognition within the community and to encourage contributors to the rapidly growing field of optical interferometry.  The prizes were announced on July 5, 2012 in Amsterdam at the SPIE conference "Optical and Infrared Interferometry".

For additional information, please contact Stephen Ridgway (

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