Ronald L. Gilliland, an adjunct professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, has been honored with the Beatrice M. Tinsley Award from the American Astronomical Society. The Tinsley Prize recognizes outstanding, exceptionally creative, and innovative research contributions to the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. Gilliland is being honored for his innovative work on the study of ultra-high signal-to-noise observations related to time-domain photometry -- a technique of measuring an astronomical object's changes in electromagnetic radiation over time.
In addition to being an adjunct professor at Penn State, Gilliland maintains affiliation with the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., as an emeritus astronomer. During his years at the STScI, Gilliland has participated in the detection and study of supernovae -- highly energetic explosions of stars -- which resulted in his contributions to the theory of an accelerating expansion of the universe. He also was one of the first astronomers to detect the presence of an atmosphere around a planet outside our solar system. He also has made many contributions to the study of stellar oscillations -- variations in the surface temperature, radius, and overall brightness of a star.
Gilliland's previous honors include a Gruber Prize in Cosmology in 2007, two Space Telescope Science Institute Individual Science Achievement Awards -- one in 2002 and one in 1992 -- and a National Center for Atmospheric Research Individual Incentive Award in 1986. He is a member of the physics honor society Sigma Pi Sigma and the mathematics honor society Pi Mu Epsilon. In addition, he is a member of the American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union. He is the author of more than 200 scientific papers in refereed publications such as the Astrophysical Journal.
He earned a doctoral degree at the University of California in 1979 and a bachelor's degree at the University of Kansas in 1974.