In 2007, Ohio State received an anonymous gift of $20 million to support the exploration of outer space, which funds student fellowships and two faculty chairs named for men known for their fascination with exploration and discovery—Thomas Jefferson and John Glenn. The Thomas Jefferson Chair supports a professor in the College of Arts and Sciences studying grand-scale space exploration, specifically work concentrating on the search for extrasolar planets with the potential to support life.
A member of the astronomy faculty since 2006, Gaudi said, “I am humbled to be named the next Jefferson Chair, and I am incredibly grateful for the generous donation that made this position possible. The funds from the endowment will allow me to continue and even expand my research on discovering and characterizing planets around other stars.
“More importantly, however, it will support the training and development of the next generation of Ohio State graduate students and postdocs, some of whom will go on to find new planets of their own."
Gaudi is a leader in the discovery and statistical characterization of extrasolar planets using a variety of methods, including transits and gravitational microlensing.