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2002 Gruber Cosmology Prize

An observational astronomer, Dr. Vera Rubin helped establish the importance of dark matter in the universe through her pioneering use of new technologies and exploration of the rotation of spiral galaxies. Dr. Rubin and her researcher associates found direct observational evidence of galaxies that have captured, or merged with, another galaxy or gas cloud with independent dynamics, a finding that reinforces the current favored model of how galaxies form.

2002 Cosmology Prize Recipient

Laureate Profile

Dr. Rubin is an observational astronomer who has devoted her professional career to the study of motions of gas and stars in galaxies in the universe, and her studies have played a significant role in uncovering previously unknown features of the universe, particularly relating to dark matter.

She is the author of some 200 papers on the subject of galaxies and their motions. She also is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. In 1993 President Clinton awarded her the National Medal of Sciences and nominated her to the National Science Board, 1996-2002. In 1996 she received the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (London), becoming the first woman to be so honored since Carolyn Herschel in 1828. In 1965 she became the first woman authorized to observe at the Palomar Observatory.

In addition to astronomy, Dr. Rubin has been a force for greater recognition of women in the sciences. She has called for more women in the NAS, on review panels, and in academic searches. She says that she has fought with the National Academy of Sciences, but she continues to be dissatisfied with the number of women who are elected each year. She claims it is the saddest part of her life and says, "Thirty years ago, I thought everything was possible."



Vera Rubin, Astronomer at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, is preeminent in studying the motions of galaxies. Her pioneering studies of deviations of galaxy motions from classic Hubble theory demonstrated that large scale structure existed in the universe.

Her discovery that most of the universe is unseen dark matter derived from her exploration of the rotation of spiral galaxies.

By example and gentle voice she has championed equal rights and revealed the incredible beauty of the universe.

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