Pinay Reinabelle Reyes receives Astronomy Award

By Jose Rodel Clapano
Tuesday, April 8, 2008

San Juan City Councilor Dante Santiago has filed a resolution extolling Reinabelle Co Reyes for receiving the “Chambliss Astronomy achievement student award” for her major role in the discovery of the largest number of “obscured quasars,” during the 211th annual meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

In his resolution, Santiago said Reyes deserved a tap on the shoulder from the entire City of San Juan and the country as well, for bringing another honor to the Filipino people

Reyes is the daughter of Ramon Reyes, former president of the San Juan Lion’s Club and Mrs. Botan Co Reyes, both long time residents of 136 F. Blumentritt Street in Barangay San Perfecto, San Juan City.

“This does not come often so I think it is only proper to give her the honors. The obscured quasars are super massive black holes in the centers of galaxies cloaked in gas and dust,” Santiago said.

The prestigious American Astronomical Society (AAS) was established in 1899 and it is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America whose basic objective is to promote the advancement of astronomy and closely related branches of science.

“The membership of the American Astronomical Society include physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy,” Santiago said.

The “Chambliss Astronomy Achievement Student Awards” are given by the Society to recognize exemplary research by undergraduate and graduate students. The awardees are honored with a Chambliss medal and a certificate.

Santiago said Reyes’ role in the discovery of the largest amount of “obscured quasars,” is significant because it will eventually revise science books.

“The discovery, which may eventually revise science books, was the culmination of a five-year study spearheaded by Nadia Zakamska, a long-term post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Advance Study, under the supervision of quasar hunter professor Michael Strauss,” Santiago said.

Aside from the “Chambliss Astronomical achievement student award,” Reyes is also a recipient of awards and fellowships which include: the Centennial Fellowship, Princeton University Graduate School (2006-2010); Merit Prize Fellowship Grant, Princeton University Graduate School (2006-2010); Martin Schwarschild Graduate Fellowship, Princeton University (2006-2007); Academic Scholarship, Ateneo de Manila University (2001-2005); and Merit Science Scholarship, Department of Science and Technology (2001-2005).

“Reinabelle’s other ongoing research projects include: Testing gravity on large scales using cosmological observations; Constraining the amplitude of fluctuations using galaxy clusters; Dust emission in the infrared spectra of SINGS galaxies; and Cometary Knots around the Helix Planetary Nebula,” Santiago said.

Reyes is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Astrophysics at Princeton University in New Jersey, USA. She was a Merit Science Scholar of the DOST after graduating valedictorian from the Philippine Science High School, after which she received an academic scholarship from the Ateneo de Manila University. In 2005 she graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in Physics.

Reyes entered a masters level program in 2006 at the High Energy Physics of the Abdus Salam International Center for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy.

“The award she received once more brought honor and pride to the country and the city government of San Juan, in its own humble way, wishes to recognize and appreciate the remarkable talent of Ms. Reinabelle Co Reyes and at the same time honor her not only for being a true-blue San Juaneño but more importantly as a Filipino,” Santiago said. (Philippine Star, April 8, 2008)