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Hilo Staff Recognized by Awards from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy

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Several staff based at Gemini North in Hilo, Hawai‘i were the recipients of annual awards from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) for excellence in science, outstanding service, and diversity, equity, and inclusion work. AURA is a consortium of 49 US institutions and three international affiliates and manages the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the National Solar Observatory (NSO), and the National Science Foundation National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NSF NOIRLab). NSF NOIRLab, in turn, manages the Gemini International Observatory. 

Emanuele (Ema) Farina, a Gemini North staff scientist, received the 2023 AURA Science Award for his work measuring black hole masses and Eddington ratios for a sample of 38 luminous, high-redshift quasars. This work was an important contribution to understanding the formation of the first quasars during the epoch of reionization, and represented the state of art before the anticipated major impact of the James Webb Space Telescope on this field. Ema is also involved in a myriad of community science efforts, mentors several students including students participating in the Akamai program, and has played a leading role in the commissioning of the new IFUs for the GNIRS instrument at Gemini North that have been recently released for community use

(Ema Farina. Image Credit: NOIRLab/AURA/NSF/ T. Slovinský)

Therese Sampaia, an AURA Human Resources Manager based in Hilo, received the 2023 AURA Outstanding Service Award for her tireless efforts in Human Resources on behalf of staff across all of NOIRLab and AURA. Therese is a consummate professional and a steady source of guidance and support. While much of the behind-the-scenes work Therese does can’t be publicly discussed, she has worked tirelessly to resolve complex issues and supported Hawai‘i-based staff through several challenging issues in Hawai‘i over the past several years. She has also led the successful recruitment of dozens of new members of the NOIRLab team and is a member of the AURA Equity and Inclusion Council