Newton Lacy Pierce Prize in Astronomy

The Pierce Prize is normally awarded annually for outstanding achievement, over the past five years, in observational astronomical research based on measurements of radiation from an astronomical object. It is given to an astronomer who has not attained 36 years of age in the year designated for the award (for the 2021 prize, for example, the recipient must have been born in 1986 or later). Note, however, that suspensions of career progress due to documented family or medical leave may be allowed as a factor in considering a person's eligibility. The recipient shall be a resident of North America (including Hawaii and Puerto Rico) or a member of a North American institution stationed abroad.

Self-nominations are allowed, and all prize requirements must be met at the time of nomination. No individual candidate is eligible for both the Warner and Pierce Prizes.

Nominations are open and are due on 30 June.

View Nomination Checklist View Ethics Self-Disclosure Form

Submit Your Nomination

Donate to the Newton Lacy Pierce Prize Fund

Warner/Pierce Prize Committee

2024 - Maria Drout

For revealing discoveries of the evolution, influence, and end states of massive stars through the study of explosive transients and resolved stellar populations.

2023 - Renee Ludlam

For novel explorations of the relativistic universe that have revealed fundamental properties of neutron stars.

2022 - Erin Kara

For her innovative and sustained contributions to high-energy astrophysics.
Courtney Dressing

2021 - Courtney Dressing

For her leading contributions that have dramatically advanced our understanding of the formation rate, composition, and evolution of planets around low-mass M dwarf stars.

2020 – Emily Levesque

For her breakthrough studies of massive stars and their explosive end states.

2019 – Daniel R. Weisz

For his transformational work on the star-formation histories of dwarf galaxies in the Local Group.

2018 – Caitlin Casey

For her work on high-redshift star-forming galaxies and for pioneering new quantitative techniques for determining the importance of submillimeter galaxies in galaxy evolution.

2017 – Evan Kirby

For his work on the chemical abundances of stars in dwarf galaxies. He has done pioneering work in isolating metallicity variations in late-type stars through medium-resolution spectroscopy and in identifying different stellar populations within faint and

2016 – Karin I. Öberg

For her research on the astrochemistry and astrophysics of ices and molecules in star-forming regions and protoplanetary disks.

2015 – Heather A. Knutson

For her transformational work in the characterization of exoplanet atmospheres.

2014 – Nadia L. Zakamska

For her multi-wavelength work on Type II quasars that has characterized these sources in detail and led to the current “standard model” of quasars, as well as her work on finding direct evidence for AGN-driven outflows, regarded as an essential ingredient
Year Recipient(s) Citation
2013 Jason Kalirai For major contributions to the field of stellar and Galactic astrophysics, including establishing a fundamental relation of stellar astrophysics, the initial-final mass relation, that maps the fraction of mass loss that stars experience over their lives.
2012 John A. Johnson For major contributions to understanding fundamental relationships between extrasolar planets and their parent stars, including finding a variety of orientations between planetary orbital planes and the spin axes of their stars, developing a rigorous understanding of planet detection rates in transit and direct imaging experiments, and examining possible correlations between planet frequency and the mass and metallicity of their host stars.
2011 Gaspar Bakos For the impact he has had on the study of exoplanets, his contributions to our understanding of the unexpected diversity of exoplanet properties, and the extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit and capability he has shown in the development of one of the most successful systems for detecting transiting extra-solar planets (HATNet).
2010 Tommaso Treu For his insightful work into the physical understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, groups an clusters, including the coupled evolution of the luminous, dark matter and black hole components
2009 Joshua Bloom In recognition of his work to explore and understand the nature of gamma-ray burst sources, both as a successful observer of these enigmatic and highly transient phenomena, and through his work to synthesize these observations into a coherent model of the mechanisms and astrophysical sites of gamma-ray burst formation.
2008 Lisa J. Kewley For her influential contributions to both the theoretical and observational fields of galaxy evolution. Dr. Kewley has pioneered new and improved techniques to determine key physical parameters as the star formation rate, chemical compositions, and energy source (massive stars versus AGN), which have brought new insights into the history of star-forming galaxies.
2007 Omitted
2006 Bryan M. Gaensler For his work on the interactions between neutron stars and their surroundings, which led to our appreciation of the wide diversity of magnetized neutron stars.
2005 Andrew Blain For his outstanding contributions to sub-mm and far-IR astronomy.
2004 Niel Brandt For his outstanding contributions to x-ray astronomy.
2003 Xiaohui Fan For his systematic discovery of high redshift quasars in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
2002 Amy Barger In recognition of her outstanding achievement in observational cosmology using data from X-ray through radio wavelengths to explore previously unknown populations of distant galaxies, giving a view of galaxies early in the history of the universe and showing that they are major contributors to the extragalactic background.
2001 Kenneth R. Sembach In recognition of work which has been important in increasing our understanding of the structure and elemental abundances of the gaseous component of the galaxy, especially of the galactic halo, as well as in discovering new facets of the high velocity cloud phenomenon in the galactic periphery.
2000 Kirpal Nandra In recognition of using data from a variety of x-ray satellites to identify reflection spectra and broadened iron lines from accretion disks in active galactic nuclei. 1999 Dennis F. Zaritsky
1999 Dennis F. Zaritsky
1998 Andrea M. Ghez
1997 Alyssa A. Goodman
1996 Michael Strauss
1995 Andrew McWilliam
1994 Omitted
1993 Arlin P.S. Crotts
1992 Alexei Filippenko
1991 Kenneth Libbrecht
1990 Kristen Sellgren
1989 Harriet L. Dinerstein
1988 Sallie L. Baliunas
1987 Donald E. Winget
1986 Reinhard Genzel
1985 Richard G. Kron
1984 Marc Aaronson & Jeremy R. Mould
1983 Alan Dressler
1982 Marc Davis
1981 Bruce Margon
1980 Jack Baldwin
1979 D. Harper
1978 James M. Moran, Jr.
1977 Donald N.B. Hall
1976 James Roger Angel
1975 Eric Becklin
1974 Edwin M. Kellogg