The Bruce Medalists


  Portrait Photo 2010 by Bob Paz, Caltech, courtesy Prof. Scoville
Nicholas Zabriskie Scoville
1945 2017 Bruce Medalist

Nick Scoville was born in New York City and raised in Washington, DC, where his father was a prominent physical scientist and arms control advocate and his mother was a painter and sculptor. He attended Columbia University for both his undergraduate and graduate studies, completing his Ph.D. in 1972 with a dissertation on radio observations of massive molecular clouds. From 1975 to 1983 he was at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he rose to be associate director of the Five College Radio Astronomy Observatory. There, working with Judith Young and others, he became known for pioneering radio, submillimeter, and infrared observations of interstellar gas, including giant molecular clouds. Since 1983 Scoville has been a professor at the California Institute of Technology (emeritus since 2016). He directed Caltech's Owens Valley Radio Observatory for ten years and headed the astronomy program for four. He is the founder of the Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) project, which he led for its first decade. COSMOS involves about 200 astronomers from many countries and makes use of most of the world's major telescopes in every wavelength band from radio to X-ray. The goals include the understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, the evolution of active galactic nuclei, and the changing rate of star formation over time. Weak gravitational lensing is used to determine the large scale structure of the dark matter that makes up most of the Universe. The survey includes more than two million galaxies, essentially all those in a two square degree field out to a redshift of about 6. His portion of the work has included working with large teams on optical observations with the Hubble Space Telescope and radio observations of interstellar gas in distant galaxies with the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). These observations have led to discoveries involving the evolution of the interstellar medium and new understanding of star formation when the Universe was substantially younger than it is now, as well as maps of the dark matter distribution at various epochs. He has also done extensive theoretical work on circumstellar mass-loss, molecular line emission, and ultra-luminous infrared galaxies and active galactic nuclei. His hobby is making abstract welded aluminum sculptures.

Personal Web Page
At the California Institute of Technology

Presentation of Bruce medal
See the ASP website.

Other awards
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 2021.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Karl Jansky Lecturer, 2015.
University of Arizona, Aaronson Prize, 1993.

Caricature by BrⒸwn Astrophysics and Space Science, 269, 365 (1999).
Photo courtesy Prof. Scoville

Named after him
Minor Planet #25746 Nickscoville

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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