Courtney Dressing of the University of California, Berkeley Is a Rising Star in Astronomy

Courtney Dressing, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, has been selected to receive the 2021 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize in Astronomy from the American Astronomical Society. The Pierce Prize is awarded annually for outstanding achievement, over the preceding five years, in observational astronomical research. It is given to an astronomer who is under 36 years of age.

Dr. Dressing was honored “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.”

“I am curious about how planets form and evolve with time, the frequency of planetary systems in the galaxy, and the prospects for detecting life on planets outside of our solar system,” Dr. Dressing says. “I am particularly interested in red dwarfs — stars that are significantly smaller, cooler, and more numerous than stars like the Sun. Planets orbiting such stars are more easily detectable than planets orbiting larger stars, and recent surveys have revealed that red dwarfs frequently host potentially habitable planets.”

Dr. Dressing earned a bachelor’s degree in the astrophysical sciences at Princeton University in New Jersey. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University.

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