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Cardiff physicist picks up prestigious international award

2 March 2021

Dr Cosimo Inserra, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, has been awarded the 2021 MERAC Prize by the European Astronomical Society (EAS) for the ‘Best Early Career Researcher in Observational Astrophysics’.

Dr Inserra has been given the prestigious accolade ‘for the investigation of the extremes of stellar explosions, providing a pioneering contribution to their understanding and their role in astronomy and astrophysics.’

As well as a receiving a prize of €25,000, Dr Inserra will gain access to extra research funding provided by the MERAC Foundation and will deliver a plenary lecture at the EAS annual meeting and at the MERAC Foundation headquarters in Switzerland.

Dr Inserra obtained his PhD in 2012 from the University of Catania, Italy before he moved to Queen’s University, Belfast as a postdoctoral researcher where he was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Winton Capital Award 2017.

He became a lecturer at Cardiff University in 2018 and, since 2019, has been the principal investigator and survey manager of the largest worldwide spectroscopic survey in time-domain astronomy (ePESSTO+).

Dr Inserra’s work focusses on cosmic explosions, called supernovae, that characterise the death of a star, with a particular focus on the brightest supernovae explosions, usually referred to as "superluminous supernovae”.

The MERAC prize is one of the most prestigious early career prizes in astrophysics, with thousands of early career researchers considered for the award.

The prizes are given out in three areas of astrophysicists and are awarded every other year to researchers who have achieved their PHD degrees in the previous ten years.

On receiving the award, Dr Inserra said: “I am extremely excited and honoured to receive such a prestigious award for my achievements in observational astrophysics.

“It is a privilege to be recognised among such a large group of peers from across Europe, and this award will allow my group and I to grow further and achieve more ground-breaking research in the field of astrophysics.”

Professor Rudolf Allemann, Pro Vice-Chancellor International and Student Recruitment and Head of the College of Physical Sciences & Engineering said: “I extend my warmest congratulations to Dr Inserra on receiving such a prestigious award and being recognised as one of the very best early career researchers in Europe. The achievements of Dr Inserra are indicative of the high-impact research in the School of Physics and Astronomy and more widely across the University, providing the perfect environment for researchers to begin their careers and succeed in their field of research.”

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