CASCA is pleased to announce Dr. Simon Blouin as the recipient of the 2020 J. S. Plaskett Medal for the most outstanding doctoral thesis in astronomy or astrophysics. Dr. Blouin received his PhD thesis in 2019 under the supervision of Prof. Patrick Dufour, and is currently a Director’s Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory. His thesis, titled “Modeling of high-density effects at the photosphere of cool white dwarf stars”, resolves a longstanding problem in the theory of white dwarf atmospheres, which could not reproduce the emergent flux from cool helium-rich white dwarfs, casting doubt on the foundations of the theory and reliability of its predictions, with implications for the study of galactic stellar populations using white dwarf dating. Dr. Blouin re-worked these atmospheric calculations from first principles, using a variety of techniques, extending the validity of atmospheric models and successfully accounting for cool white dwarf observations, thereby filling a crucial need in the community.
CASCA is delighted to recognize Dr. Blouin’s efforts with this award.