John F. Hawley

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John F. Hawley (born 1958) is an American astrophysicist and a professor of astronomy at the University of Virginia. In 2013, he shared the Shaw Prize for Astronomy with Steven Balbus.[1]

Early life[edit]

John Hawley was born in 1958 in Annapolis, Maryland.[2] He is the younger brother of former astronaut Steven A. Hawley and graduated from Central High School in Salina, Kansas.[3]

Hawley is a graduate of Haverford College. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1984.[2]

Professional career[edit]

Hawley was a Bantrell Prize Fellow in Theoretical Astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology from 1984 to 1987.[2] He then joined the faculty of the University of Virginia in 1987 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to full professor in 1999 and was chair of the Department of Astronomy from 2006 to 2012.[1] As of 2015, Hawley is the Associate Dean for the Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.[4] His research interests include computational astrophysics and accretion disks.[5]


Hawley was the 1993 recipient of the Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society. [6][7] In 2013, he and former colleague Steven Balbus shared the Shaw Prize in Astronomy for their work on the magnetorotational instability (MRI). Considered one of the highest honors in astronomy, the prize included a US$1 million cash award.[1] According to the Shaw selection committee the "discovery and elucidation of the magnetorotational instability (MRI)" solved the previously "elusive" problem of accretion, a widespread phenomenon in astrophysics and "provides what to this day remains the only viable mechanism for the outward transfer of angular momentum in accretion disks".[8] The Shaw Prize ceremony was held September 23 in Hong Kong.[1]

When Hawley learned of the Shaw Prize via email, he thought it was a scam. "I started looking for the Nigerian return address and a request for my bank account number," he later joked.[1] He also recalled watching late-night kung fu movies made by Run Run Shaw, the prize's founder, and joked that now he would have to buy a good tuxedo rather than wear "the usual astronomer attire – blue jeans and sneakers."[1] On the prize money, he commented "We're just selfless scientists who live for the joy of discovery, but it's nice to get some cash, too."[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Samarrai, Fariss. "Astronomer John Hawley Wins 2013 Shaw Prize in Astronomy". University of Virginia.
  2. ^ a b c "Biographical Notes of Laureates". Shaw Prize. May 28, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.
  3. ^ a b DeMuth, Gary (May 29, 2013). "Former Salinan wins prestigious award for astronomy". Salina Journal. Archived from the original on June 17, 2013.
  4. ^ Woo, Meredith Jung-En. "John Hawley Appointed as Associate Dean for the Sciences". University of Virginia. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30.
  5. ^ "John Hawley | Department of Astronomy, U.Va". Retrieved 2019-07-26.
  6. ^ American Astronomical Society. "Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy". American Astronomical Society. Archived from the original on 2013-05-30. Retrieved 2013-06-09.
  7. ^ "John F. Hawley received the 1993 Helen P. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.", Physics Today, 46: R61, 1993, Bibcode:1993PhT....46R..61., doi:10.1063/1.2809037
  8. ^ "Shaw Prize Press Release" (Press release). The Shaw Prize. May 28, 2013. Retrieved June 21, 2013.

External links[edit]