UMass Amherst Astronomer Daniela Calzetti Elected to the National Academy of Sciences

World-renowned expert in how galaxies are formed receives high national honor
Daniela Calzetti
Daniela Calzetti

AMHERST, Mass. – The U.S. National Academy of Sciences this week announced that internationally recognized scholar Daniela Calzetti, professor and head of astronomy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has been elected to the panel “in recognition of distinguished and continuing achievements in original research.”

The honor is “a widely recognized mark of excellence in science and one of the highest honors a scientist can receive,” NAS points out. Calzetti is one of 120 United States and 26 international new members who will receive individual citations for their specific research contributions at a formal induction ceremony at the 2021 NAS annual meeting.

Calzetti says, “I feel honored and humbled at the same time. This recognition will increase my resolve to dedicate more of my energies in service of the community.”

John McCarthy, UMass Amherst provost and senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, says of Calzetti, “We are privileged to have this extraordinary scientist and leader as a member of our faculty. Calzetti is not only an internationally recognized contributor to her discipline, but also a deeply engaged member of the UMass Amherst community.”

A specialist in how galaxies evolve, Calzetti is known worldwide for “Calzetti’s Law,” a tool she developed in the mid-1990s that, among other things, allows astronomers to estimate how much information they are missing due to dust obscuring probes of very distant galaxies.

Among her many honors on campus and in the international astronomy community, are the campus Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Research and Creative Activity in 2013 and two years later, one of the campus’s highest awards, the Conti Fellowship. She has been on the global list of most highly cited researchers for a number of years, and in 2016 the Swedish Research Council awarded her the highly prized Tage Erlander Visiting Professorship. It is given annually to an internationally prominent researcher in natural and engineering sciences.

NASA tapped Calzetti to serve as the principal investigator of a Hubble Treasury project known as Legacy ExtraGalactic Ultraviolet Survey (LEGUS), where she led a collaborative team of about 55 astronomers from more that 30 institutions on four continents. In 2018, the LEGUS group released the most comprehensive ultraviolet survey of nearby galaxies to date, performed with the Hubble Space Telescope. The survey provided the stellar and star cluster catalogs for 50 LEGUS galaxies containing measurements for about 39 million stars and over 10,000 star clusters.

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit institution that was established under a congressional charter signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. It is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research.