(October 1952 – February 2017)
Prof. Neil Gehrels was the Director of the NASA Astroparticle Physics Laboratory and a leading figure for several decades in the field of gamma ray astronomy.
He was best known as the Principal Investigator of the highly successful Swift Gamma Ray Burst Mission launched in 2004 which transformed the view on the transient and variable sky in gamma-rays and in X-rays. Under his leadership, Swift has discovered over 1000 of the enigmatic and extreme cosmic explosions called gamma-ray bursts, and revealed their properties, distances, and environments, well beyond what was previously known, with profound implications for their understanding.
Among the distinguished awards that Prof. Gehrels received are the Caltech Distinguished Alumni Award (2016); the Physical Sciences Award, Washington Academy of Science (2016); the Henry Draper Medal, National Academy of Sciences, USA (2009), and the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal (2005).
Prof. Gehrels was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, USA; the International Academy of Astronautics, and a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.