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Blandford wins top honor from the Royal Astronomical Society

Physics Professor Roger Blandford received the British Royal Astronomical Society’s highest award, the Gold Medal, last Friday. He joins an elite group of scientists, which includes visionaries such as Albert Einstein, Edwin Hubble and Stephen Hawking.

The society can bestow up to two Gold Medals each year: one recognizes achievement in astronomy, the other achievement in geophysics.

Blandford won this year’s Gold Medal in astronomy because of “his varied and inspirational contributions to theoretical astrophysics, as well as his service to the astrophysics research community at an international level,” according to the society’s press release. The release also called Blandford “the outstanding all-round theoretical astrophysicist of his generation.”

The Royal Academy Society cited his work on relativistic astrophysics in the early stages of his career, cosmic jets in 1970s and gravitational lensing today.

“Prof. Blandford has achieved an international reputation not only for his original research, but also through the esteem in which his advice is held,” the society wrote.

Blandford serves as the director of Kavli Institute of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology – an independent lab at Stanford that intends to serve as a bridge between the disciplines of astrophysics, cosmology and particle physics — and as a professor at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

“I am overwhelmed but delighted by this quite unexpected recognition,” Blandford said in a SLAC press release. “It makes me realize just how fortunate I am to be working at a time of great discovery in astrophysics and cosmology and to be grateful to my wonderful teachers, collaborators and students.”

Chris Chapman of Schlumberger Gould Research won the 2013 Gold Medal in geophysics.