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2015 Featured Story #5: Jay Strader Receives Packard Fellowship

Banner for Jay Strader's Packard Fellowship award (photo credit goes to G.L. Kohuth)

On October 15th, Assistant Professor Jay Strader of the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy was named one of this year's 18 recipients nationwide of a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering. Accompanying this prestigious honor is an individual research grant of $875,000 distributed over the next five years.

Dr. Strader's work focuses on the study of black holes and massive globular clusters, leading to a better understanding of stellar and galactic evolution and providing information useful for tests of Einstein's theory of general relativity.

Much of Strader’s observational data is obtained through use of the 4.1-meter Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope. This telescope is located in Chile and is a joint venture between MSU, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the country of Brazil and the National Optical Astronomy Observatories.

Dr. Strader joined the MSU faculty in 2012 after five years as a Hubble Fellow and Menzel Fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in physics and mathematics at Duke University, and his Ph.D. at the University of California-Santa Cruz.

The David & Lucile Packard Foundation established the Packard Fellowships for Science and Engineering in 1988 to allow the nation's most promising early career professors to pursue their science and engineering reserach with few funding restrictions and limited paperwork requirements.

Every year, the Foundation invites the presidents of 50 universities to nominate two early-career professors each from their institutions. Nominations are carefully reviewed by the Fellowship Advisory Panel, comprised of distinguished scientists and engineers. From these nominees, 18 are selected to receive the fellowship.

Over 26 years, the Foundation has awarded $346 million to support over 500 scientists and engineers from 52 top national universities. It is among the nation's largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed to allow maximum flexibility on how the funding is used. Packard Fellows have gone on to receive many additional awards and honors, including the Nobel Prize in Physics; the Fields Medal; the MacArthur Fellowships; and elections to the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.