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MSU Astronomer Strader Earns Packard Fellowship

Jay Strader

Michigan State University astronomer Jay Strader has been named a fellow of the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, a prestigious award that honors the country’s most innovative early-career scientists.

Strader and 17 other fellows will receive a grant of $875,000 over five years to pursue their research.

The Packard Foundation established the national program in 1988 to provide early career scientists with flexible funding and the freedom to take risks and explore new frontiers in their fields.

“I am humbled to have been selected and am honored to represent MSU as a Packard Fellow,” Strader said.

An assistant professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Strader’s work focuses on black holes. Specifically, he discovers and studies black holes in the dense stellar environments of globular clusters using data from optical, X-ray and radio telescopes.

This work sheds light on the formation of black holes in the death throes of massive stars and helps guide tests of Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Much of Strader’s work is conducted through use of the Southern Astrophysical Research telescope. SOAR is 4.1-meter telescope 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.

Strader has been an MSU faculty member since 2012. From 2007-2012 he was 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.

Two other MSU faculty members have won a Packard fellowship: Kay Holekamp, University Distinguished Professor of zoology (1993), and Marcos Dantus, professor of chemistry (1995).

Each year, the foundation invites 50 universities to nominate two faculty members for consideration. The Packard Fellowships Advisory Panel, a group of 12 internationally recognized scientists and engineers, evaluates the nominations and recommends fellows for approval by the Packard Foundation Board of Trustees.

Since 1988, the foundation has awarded $346 million to support 523 scientists and engineers from 52 top national universities. The Packard Fellowships are among the nation’s largest nongovernmental fellowships, designed to allow maximum flexibility in how the funding is used.

- Layne Cameron and Jay Strader via MSU Today

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