Kiersten Boley and Caprice Phillips win 2022 AAS Beth Brown Memorial Prize

December 8, 2022

Kiersten Boley and Caprice Phillips win 2022 AAS Beth Brown Memorial Prize

Photograph of Beth Brown Winners 2022

Congratulations to Caprice Phillips and Kiersten Boley for winning the AAS Beth Brown Memorial Prize for the best astronomy oral presentation and best astronomy poster presentation at the annual National Society of Black Physicists meeting!!  These awards include free travel to an upcoming AAS meeting and free AAS membership. 

Previous winners from our department include Kiersten Boley for best oral presentation in 2021, Romy Rodriguez Martinez for best poster presentation in 2018, and Professor Laura Lopez in 2009. 

Big congrats to Caprice and Kiersten for these well-deserved honors!! 


The AAS supports a prize program at the annual meeting of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP): the Beth Brown Memorial Awards. They honor the memory of a vigorous and engaged young astronomer who passed away at age 39 from a pulmonary embolism. Beth Brown earned her bachelor's degree from Howard University and, in 1998, became the first African American woman to earn a PhD from the University of Michigan's astronomy department. She died in 2008 just before beginning a new position as Assistant Director for Science Communication at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Although her time working in the professional astronomical community was short, she had a significant impact on our discipline, not least by serving as a role model for many students from underrepresented groups.

Three awards are given: best poster presentation by an undergraduate and a graduate student, and best oral presentation by either an undergraduate or a graduate student. At its recent meeting, the recipients of the 2022 awards were announced:

  • Best Undergraduate Poster Presentation: Myles Pope (Howard University), "Accurate Masses of Extraordinary Red Giants"
  • Best Graduate Poster Presentation: Kiersten Boley (The Ohio State University), "Impacts on Planet Formation: Planet Occurrence Rates in the Metal-Poor Regime"
  • Memorial Oral Presentation: Caprice Phillips (The Ohio State University), "Is LTT 1445 Ab a Hycean World or a cold Haber World? Exploring the Potential of Twinkle to Unveil Its Nature"

In addition, the judges — members of the NSBP's Astronomy and Astrophysics (ASTRO) Group, which often includes representatives of the AAS Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (CSMA) — decided to award Honorable Mentions to graduate student Hodari-Sadiki Hubbard-James (Georgia State University) for his poster entitled "Spectroscopic Identification of Young and Active K Dwarfs Within 25 Parsecs," and to graduate student Chris Carr (Columbia University) for his oral presentation entitled "Regulating Star Formation with a Hot Circumgalactic Medium."

We provide each of the award winners with complimentary AAS membership for one year along with complimentary registration to an upcoming AAS or Division meeting to present their research, plus up to $1,000 to cover the cost of food, lodging, and travel.

The winner of the oral-presentation award also gets invited to give talks at both Howard University and the University of Michigan, focusing on their path into research astronomy. The AAS covers the costs of food, lodging, and travel to Howard University and covers the cost of airfare to Michigan, while the University of Michigan pays the winner's food and lodging expenses.

You can read more here.