Physicist receives prestigious international fellowship

Liliana Rivera Sandoval recognized with 2021 Gruber Foundation Fellowship from International Astronomical Union.

Andrew Lyle - 08 June 2021

Liliana Rivera Sandoval, has been awarded the prestigious Gruber Foundation Fellowship—an award that will help fund her astrophysics research and advocacy for women in science.

“It is a great honour to be a recipient of such a competitive and prestigious postdoctoral fellowship. It is awarded by the International Astronomical Union, the organization that represents all astronomers around the world, and that makes this prize really special,” said Rivera Sandoval, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physics, of the recognition.

“Receiving such an award really motivates me to continue performing my research on stellar remnants,” said Rivera Sandoval. “This funding will allow me to attend some relevant conferences in my field which will strengthen my existing collaborations and allow me to create new ones with researchers around the world.”

Rivera Sandoval’s focus of study is on stellar remnants through multi-wavelength observations—shedding new light on their interactions. This includes how stellar remnants interact with their companions in binary systems and how their formation and evolution is affected when they interact with surrounding stars in crowded environments.

“By analyzing different types of data I try to impose observational constraints for models,” said Rivera Sandoval. “This will ultimately allow us to understand the physics that governs these systems.”

The funding from the Gruber Fellowship will complement existing funding that Rivera Sandoval receives through the Avadh Bhatia Postdoctoral Fellowship for Women, which she also received in 2020.

“As a scientist, this fellowship is also very important because it helps me to further develop as an independent researcher and it helps me to reach the goal of providing a role model in astronomy for other Latin Americans, especially younger women,” said Rivera Sandoval.

”With the resources from the Gruber fellowship I will be able to organize activities to highlight the importance of women and other minorities in science with the ultimate goal of encouraging younger generations from these groups into STEM activities. “

The Gruber funding will also support Rivera Sandoval’s research by allowing her to invite long-time collaborators to the University of Alberta who are world experts on simulations of stellar populations. But she explains that the Department of Physics is home to quite a few experts itself.

“The university of Alberta is home to many researchers who are world leaders in the study of stellar remnants, from the theoretical and observational point of view,” said Rivera Sandoval. “Thus, working at the U of A gives me the opportunity to learn from them, exchange ideas and be exposed to cutting-edge science. All this happens in a friendly environment, which makes the U of A a really great place to work.”

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