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OU names first recipient of astrobiology legacy award

The first recipient of an astrobiology award in memory of the late Professor Barrie Jones – an OU astrobiologist – has been named.

Lisa Kaltenegger, Director of the Cornell Carl Sagan Institute and Associate Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University, New York, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Barrie Jones Award.

It recognises an individual’s contribution to society, and outstanding achievement in science and outreach through work relating to astrobiology. It was established by the OU Department of Physical Sciences in partnership with the Astrobiology Society of Britain (ASB) with the legacy of the late Professor Barrie Jones (1941–2014), an astrobiologist at the OU, who dedicated much of his career to public engagement and outreach.

Professor Kaltenegger was nominated for her world-leading research into exoplanetary science (searching for planets orbiting other stars), in particular, the possibility for habitable conditions on these planets. As Director of the Carl Sagan Institute and Associate Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University she actively engages with and inspires the next generation of young scientists.

In response to being named recipient of the award, Professor Lisa Kaltenegger, said:

I am honoured to be selected as recipient of the Barrie Jones Award, which recognises excellence in science as well as science communication. As Director of the Carl Sagan Institute, the combination is very dear to me.

“I am excited to share the latest research of our exploration of fascinating and strange other worlds that exist in our universe in the lecture.

Head of Astronomy at The Open University, Dr Stephen Serjeant, said: “Lisa, with her superb track record in engaging the public in science and inspiring future generations, makes her a very worthy winner of the Barrie Jones Award.

“Barrie Jones was an outstanding astrobiologist and educator; he was an excellent advocate for astronomical outreach, and an active member of a breadth of national and international astronomical communities. I am delighted that the OU and the ASB have established this award together.”

Professor Kaltenegger will deliver a public lecture on her research at The Open University’s Walton Hall campus in Milton Keynes. If you are interested in attending the Barrie Jones Award Lecture on Thursday 7th July 2016, please email us. It will be broadcast live.


About Author

Christine is a manager in the Media Relations team within the Marcomms Unit at the OU. She is an experienced BBC journalist, sub-editor and news editor and has a background in regional newspapers. After moving to PR she worked as a press officer for the Zoological Society of London. She has a BSc in Social Sciences with Politics from The Open University; she focuses on STEM stories and widening access in HE. Chris swims regularly and has a pet Tortoise called Lightning.

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