You are here

HEAD Dissertation Prize

The HEAD Dissertation Prize is awarded at the time of the Division Meeting (every 18 months) to recognize an outstanding doctoral dissertation in high-energy astrophysics.

2017 Eric Coughlin

The 2017 HEAD Dissertation Prize is awarded to Dr. Eric Coughlin for his thesis entitled "The Evolutionary Pathways of Tidal Disruption Events: From Stars to Debris Streams, Accretion Disks, and Relativistic Jets". This work has significantly advanced the standard theory of relativistic hydrodynamics and has yielded substantial new results detailing the physical phenomena which occurs when a star falls into a supermassive black hole. This thesis explores all phases of this process, from the initial disruption of the star, through the formation of an accretion flow onto the black hole, to the eventual acceleration of a relativistic jet, and provides an essential framework for a developing field of high energy astrophysics. (Press Release)

Citations of previous Dissertation prize winners

2017 Call for Nominations for the Dissertation Prize (now closed)

Those who have received their degrees within 3 years prior to the HEAD meeting date are eligible for the prize. Those who have not had their degree conferred by the nomination deadline should wait for the next opportunity to apply.

The winner of the prize will receive a certificate, a cash award of $1000, and an invitation to give a 30-minute invited talk at the HEAD Meeting. HEAD will waive the meeting registration fee for the winner and cover up to $1500 of the winner's travel expenses to attend the meeting.

The due date for nomination materials to be submitted to the HEAD Secretary will be approximately six months before the HEAD division meeting. Materials should be submitted via email to the HEAD Secretary at The following materials should be submitted, with at least one letter written by a HEAD member (letters of recommendation may be sent directly to the HEAD secretary). Self-nominations are not accepted.:

  • A 3-page summary of the thesis (not to exceed 5 pages total including figures and bibliography)
  • A nomination letter, nominally by the thesis supervisor and acceptably by any HEAD member except the nominee, including a statement certifying that the PhD has been awarded
  • Two additional letters of recommendation
  • CV and publication list