University of Pittsburgh
December 10, 2000


Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 11 -- The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded University of Pittsburgh professor Andrew Connolly with a Faculty Early Career Development Award, honoring Connolly's dedication to the integration of research and education.

For the past seven years, Connolly, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy, has worked on the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), which will map one-quarter of the entire sky, determining the positions and brightness of more than

100 million celestial objects. The SDSS telescope also will measure the distances to more than a million galaxies and quasars.

"One goal of the project is to develop a virtual observatory. Rather than going to an observatory, researchers will have their own telescope on their computer," Connolly said. "We are trying to develop a system that will be effective and accessible for astrophysicists and graduate students as well as undergraduates and even high school students."

Connolly investigates how galaxies form and how gravity causes them to cluster on the sky. He has developed techniques for estimating galaxy properties that could reveal their age and how they evolved. His recent work with the SDSS includes helping develop the spectroscopic component of the survey enabling the SDSS to map the highest number of spectra each night of any telescope in existence.

The Career Award is NSF's most prestigious honor for junior faculty members. The NSF established the award in 1995 to recognize scientists and researchers likely to become the academic leaders of the 21st century.

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