Prof. Combes is the 2020 recipient of the Gold Medal from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, which each year is given to a sole researcher across the broad spectrum of scientific disciplines. She receives the award as recognition for her life’s work and contribution to astrophysics.
Based at the Paris Observatory and serving as a professor at the Collège de France, Prof. Combes’ work focuses on galaxy formation and evolution, studied through both observation and simulation. As one example of her impact, she and her team created a huge database of galaxies based on their shape and size in order to simulate their interactions, when part of the French National Programme ‘Galaxies’.
She has been interested in this topic for most of her career, starting with the detection of specific molecules in other galaxies. For example, she was part of the team that first detected carbon monoxide in the Andromeda galaxy. Additionally, she is an expert on dark matter, which is also connected to galaxy formation.
In many ways, it feels particularly apt that Prof. Combes should receive the CNRS Gold Medal. In 2001, she was awarded the CNRS Silver Medal, which is given to internationally-recognised researchers as their career take off. And “in 1983, the prize was awarded to Evry Schatzman, with whom I began my career,” Prof. Combes said in a press release. The accolade is an addition to a long list of other prestigious honours, such as the 2017 Prix Jules Janssen, the 2017 Lise Meitner Prize and the 2009 Tycho Brahe Prize. Last year, she was also made Commander of National Order of Merit. (© AcademiaNet)