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Contact: Barbara K. Kennedy
Penn State

Mercedes Richards, Penn State

Caption: Mercedes Richards, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State University, is being honored as the July 2013 Woman Physicist of the Month by the American Physical Society. Richards studies close pairs of stars, called interacting binaries, which are pairs of stars that were formed at the same time, like twins, but in which each star matures at different rates and affects the evolution of its companion. Richards was lauded for her research on the dynamic interactions between close binary stars by the society's Committee on the Status of Women in Physics. In particular, the committee cited her research involving 2-D and 3-D Doppler tomography for measuring the flow of material between the stars in these paired systems, and her hydrodynamic simulations of the gas flowing between the paired stars. Richards also was honored for her active engagement in outreach initiatives including teacher-training workshops and research programs for high school students. She is the founding director of the Summer Experience in Penn State's Eberly College of Science. Her outreach involvement also includes Penn State's AstroFest and AstroNight, which promote science literacy among a wide range of demographic groups in the community surrounding the University; and Exploration Day, a hands-on learning event designed for families. In addition to her research and outreach, Richards is a mentor and also an advocate for the promotion of young people, including women and other underrepresented groups, in physics and astronomy.

Credit: Penn State University

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Related news release: Astrophysicist Mercedes Richards is Woman Physicist of the Month for July 2013

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