Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

William M. Jackson
University of California, Davis


"For outstanding contributions to fundamental chemical physics and spectroscopy associated with asteroids and comets, and for exemplary teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as lifelong service and inspiration to a diverse community."


William M. Jackson received his BS degree from Morehouse College in 1956 and his Ph.D. degree in 1961 in Physical Chemistry with minors in Physics and Mathematics. He is a renowned astrochemist who has developed cutting edge laboratory techniques that use lasers to study the small molecules that occur in comets, planetary atmospheres and the interstellar medium. His quantitative measurements of the Einstein A coefficients of CN provide that has been used to determine using the laser induced fluorescence (LIF) method on its rotational lines of CN have been employed to determine the cosmic background radiation of 2.754 0K in this and other galaxies. This work also showed that led the LIF method could be employed in the laboratory to determine the properties and reactivities of unstable free radicals observed in astronomy such as CN, C2, and C3. Other laser techniques have recently been employed to map out the detailed vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photochemistry for CO, N2 and CO2 that can be used in the modeling of these stable molecules in astronomy. He is a member of American Chemical Society (ACS), American Physical Society (APS), American Astronomical Society (AAS), Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), a member and one of the founders of National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). He is a Fellow of APS, ACS, AAAS, and NOBCChE societies and the Arthur B.C. Walker II Award, 2019 of the ASP.