Society of Science Fellow Gerasimov lands IAU prize for research in stellar physics

Author: Deanna Csomo Ferrell

Roman Gerasimov

Roman Gerasimov, a University of Notre Dame Society of Science Fellow, has won an International Astronomical Union's (IAU) 2023 PhD Prize for his research in stellar physics.

Gerasimov, who holds a doctoral degree from the University of California at San Diego, has “created” stars in computer simulations to watch them evolve over time. He works in the lab of Evan Kirby, associate professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where he also studies structures in our galaxy called globular clusters in order to determine the origins of elements.

“More than anything, I would like to emphasize that no Ph.D. is an individual achievement,” Gerasimov said, naming his advisor, Adam Burgasser, professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California San Diego, as well as an undergraduate student at the time, Mikaela Larkin (UC San Diego ’23) and others as key to the success of the research. “So to me, this award is a reminder that I am surrounded by brilliant people who keep making my work possible every day.”

As part of his award, Gerasimov will present his research at the IAU General Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, in August. The IAU PhD Prize recognizes outstanding scientific achievement in astrophysics around the world, and awards are presented in a variety of different research categories for outstanding doctoral thesis work completed the previous year.

Each of the IAU’s nine Divisions awards a prize to the candidate it identifies as having carried out the most remarkable work in the previous year. Gerasimov focused on the chemical analysis of globular star clusters, where he successfully challenged the frequently adopted paradigm that clusters are chemically uniform.

“The committee was impressed by the combination of theoretical and observational aspects of the thesis, the extent of Dr. Gerasimov's acquired expertise (i.e Phoenix, ATLAS and MESA models) and his commitment to work with undergraduate students.” said Division G President, Andrej Prsa, in a news release.

At Notre Dame, Gerasimov works in the lab of Evan Kirby, associate professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy, who said he hired Gerasimov to be the lead researcher to analyze hundreds of thousands of stellar spectra for the Subaru Prime Focus Spectrograph project.

“His presence in my group has been transformational,” Kirby said. “His intuition for stellar spectra rivals my own, and frankly, I don't know how I would manage this project without him.”