U.S. Poet Laureate and Nobel Prize-Winning Astrophysicist to Visit Dickinson in Spring

Lim%C3%B3n%3A+Lucas+Marquandt+via+Ada+Lim%C3%B3n+Press+Kit%3B+Mather%3A+Christopher+Michel+%28CC+BY+2.0%29+via+Wikimedia+Commons%0A%0A

Ada Limón (left) is this year’s Stellfox Award winner, while John Mather (right) will receive the Priestley Award.

Limón: Lucas Marquandt via Ada Limón Press Kit; Mather: Christopher Michel (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons

Ben Warren ’25, Associate News Editor

John Mather, Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist and senior project scientist on the James Webb telescope, will receive this year’s Joseph Priestley Award from Dickinson College, while Ada Limón, Poet Laureate of the United States, will be recognized by the Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program.

This year’s award winners were announced to the student body by President John E. Jones via email on Thursday. Jones wrote, “One of the truly distinctive aspects of a Dickinson education is that our students have the opportunity—time and again—to interact with top leaders in their fields, often in small-group settings.”

Limón will visit Dickinson on February 15 and 16 for a public reading, the annual Stellfox Award ceremony, and to hold a book signing. Mather’s schedule has not been released, but Jones confirmed that he will come to Dickinson in March.

Last year, the Stellfox committee decided to honor multiple writers by creating the Stellfox Distinguished Writers series, after the program was suspended in 2020 and 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Former Poet Laureate of the United States Natasha Trethewey, the anonymous Italian writer’s collective Wu Ming, and comic book creators Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner joined Dickinson students virtually through remote classroom visits and Q&A sessions.

In a return to pre-COVID tradition, Limón joins a storied group of writers to receive the individual Stellfox award, including Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Russo and Man Booker award winner Margaret Atwood.

Mather is the latest of 16 Nobel laureates who have received the Priestley Award since its inception in 1952, including luminaries like Linus Pauling and John Conway. Last year’s Priestley Award winner was Duolingo co-founder and CEO Luis Von Ahn who gave the annual Priestley lecture and met with Spanish-speaking students for a closed reception.

Since 1995, Mather has been the senior project scientist on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, which has made headlines for its $10 billion budget and the incredible view of outer space that the images it captures make possible. In 2006, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics for using the Cosmic Background Explorer spacecraft to measure microwave radiation left over from the Big Bang.

 

Image caption: Ada Limón (left) is this year’s Stellfox Award winner, while John Mather (right) will receive the Priestley Award. 

 

Image attribution: Limón: Lucas Marquandt via Ada Limón Press Kit; Mather: Christopher Michel (CC BY 2.0) via Wikimedia Commons