UF astronomy professor wins prize for extrasolar planetary research
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida associate professor of astronomy Eric B. Ford has won the 2011 Harold C. Urey Prize for outstanding achievement in planetary research by a young scientist.
The award is given by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.
In announcing the award today, the group said Ford displays both a complete mastery of theoretical tools and a deep technical understanding of all observational aspects, enabling him to make theoretical predictions with immediate impact for observers.
“His pioneering work has demonstrated that strong gravitational scattering among extrasolar planets during their late stages of formation is a key process in establishing their final orbital configuration,” according to the Division of Planetary Sciences. “In particular, he has shown that the large orbital eccentricities of extrasolar planets, unlike the nearly circular orbits of the planets in our solar system, likely resulted from scattering.”
Ford received his undergraduate degree at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his doctorate from Princeton University. He has conducted research at University of California, Berkeley as a Miller Fellow and at Harvard University as a Hubble Fellow.
The award will be presented in October at the joint meeting of the DPS and European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France.