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2024 Early Career Award

2024 LAD Early Career Award Goes to Ilsa Cooke

The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is presenting its 2024 Early Career Award to Dr. Ilsa Cooke of the University of British Columbia (UBC). The award recognizes Dr. Cooke’s contributions to the discovery of new molecules in space and her work providing a detailed understanding of their reaction mechanisms, thermodynamics, and kinetics through elegant laboratory investigations.

The LAD Early Career Award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field within 10 years of receiving their PhD. Dr. Cooke has established an outstanding career in investigating the molecular underpinnings of astrochemistry through a combination of gas- and ice-phase laboratory experiments, as well as radio telescope observations, since receiving her PhD. Subsequent to her move to UBC, Dr. Cooke and her research group have focused on building laboratory experiments to constrain the formation of aromatics and other complex organic molecules in the interstellar medium, with particular focus on understanding the formation of heterocycles and the movement of radicals on low-temperature ice surfaces (analogs of ice grains in the interstellar medium) by combining laboratory experiments, modeling, and observations.

Dr. Cooke completed her undergraduate education at the University of Otago, New Zealand. She carried out her PhD research work between University of Virginia as a Fulbright Fellow (Advisors: Profs. John T. Yates Jr. and Eric Herbst) and Harvard (Advisor: Prof. Karin Öberg) and was awarded a PhD from the University of Virginia in 2018. She was a Marie Curie Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Rennes working with Prof. Ian Sims between 2018 and 2021, before joining the Department of Chemistry at the University of British Columbia in 2022 as an Assistant Professor.

The LAD Early Career Award includes a cash award, a framed certificate, and an invited lecture by the recipient at a meeting of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division.

Murthy S. Gudipati
LAD Past Chair
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology
+1 (818) 536-9028

Rachel L. Smith
LAD Secretary
North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences /
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Appalachian State University
+1 (919) 707-8239

Ilsa Cooke
Department of Chemistry
University of British Columbia
+1 (604) 822-8511

The AAS Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) advances our understanding of the Universe through the promotion of fundamental theoretical and experimental research into the underlying processes that drive the cosmos, in collaboration with astronomical observations and other complementary fields.

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899 and based in Washington, DC, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe.