Jane Luu to Share the $1 Million Shaw Prize in Astronomy

Dr. Jane Luu will share the Shaw Prize in Astronomy, an international award managed and administered by The Shaw Prize Foundation based in Hong Kong.

Working with David C. Jewitt, a professor of astronomy and director of the Institute for Planets and Exoplanets at the University of California at Los Angeles, with whom she shares the Shaw Prize, Luu discovered the Kuiper Belt, a region of the solar system lying outside the orbit of Neptune. Over the past 20 years, more than 1,000 Kuiper Belt objects have been discovered. Luu has also discovered dozens of asteroids, including one that bears her name.

The award committee stated that they are honoring Dr. Jewitt and Dr. Luu “for their discovery and characterization of trans-Neptunian bodies, an archeological treasure dating back to the formation of the solar system and the long-sought source of short period comets.” The award presentation ceremony will be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on September 17, 2012. The prize includes an award of $1 million.

Luu is a native of Vietnam. Her father was a translator for the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. When South Vietnam fell in 1975, the Luu family came to the United States and settled in Kentucky. A graduate of Stanford University where she majored in physics, Dr. Luu earned a Ph.D. in planetary astronomy at MIT.

She has taught at Harvard University and Leiden University in the Netherlands. For the past 11 years she has been conducting research at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts.

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