Ellen Zweibel Wins Hilldale Award

Mar 28, 2019

UW-Madison Astronomy Professor Ellen G. Zweibel was awarded the 2019 Hilldale Award in the Physical Sciences.

The Secretary of the Faculty annually recognizes four professors from the University of Wisconsin–Madison for distinguished contributions to research, teaching and service with the Hilldale Awards.

One faculty member each from the arts and humanities, social sciences, physical sciences and biological sciences is selected from nominations by department chairs. The winners will be awarded $7,500 and recognized at the May 6 Faculty Senate meeting.

The winners this year are Patricia Devine, Jin-Wen Yu, Ellen Zweibel and Linda Schuler.

“Ellen is universally recognized as the leading theoretical plasma astrophysicist in the world,” writes Sebastian Heinz, chair of astronomy, in his nominating letter.

Because most matter in the universe is a form of plasma, the fourth state of matter, Ellen Zweibel’s expertise extends to the ends of the cosmos. Her research has advanced our understanding of cosmic magnetic fields and the formation of stars and interstellar clouds. Zweibel’s work on the solar cycle and solar flares has helped scientists understand the influence these events have on Earth’s weather, technology and spaceflight programs.

Zweibel’s research earned her the American Physical Society’s James Clerk Maxwell Prize in Plasma Physics in 2016, the first time a woman was awarded the prize in its four-decade history. The same year, she was elected as chair of the American Physical Society Division of Plasma Physics.

Zweibel served as chair of the astronomy department for three years. She also oversaw creation of the National Science Foundation Frontier Center for Magnetic Self-Organization, coordinating millions of dollars across five institutions to advance the field.

“Ellen displays a rare combination of intellectual brilliance, leadership, and investment in education, while showing the finest of human attributes that endear her to our students and faculty,” writes Heinz.

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