Joan R. Najita
Fellow: Awarded 2020
Field of Study: Astronomy and Astrophysics
Competition: US & Canada
Joan Najita is an Astronomer at the NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), the National Science Foundation's research and development center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy. Her research is primarily aimed at understanding how stars form from interstellar clouds and how disks surrounding young stars evolve to produce planets and the chemical ingredients of life. In recent years, she has pioneered the development of innovative techniques to probe planet formation environments, including infrared molecular spectroscopy of disks, thermal-chemical models of disk atmospheres, and the synthesis of diverse data sets toward new insights. Joan has a broad range of research interests, including planets beyond the Solar System, low mass stars and brown dwarfs, the structure and origin of our galaxy, the Milky Way, massively multiplexed wide-field spectroscopy, the nature of discovery in astronomy and its science sociology and resource allocation practices. She is actively engaged in communicating science to the public and has a lifelong interest in the power of science to inspire and in the role of science in society.