Professor Trinh Xuan Thuan awarded Legion of Honor

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Renowned astrophysicist Trinh Xuan Thuan was awarded The French Legion of Honor (Knight) by the French Ambassador to the U.S., François Delattre, on April 16, 2014 at the University of Virginia. Professor Thuan received the medal in recognition for his pioneering work in the field of astrophysics, his broader efforts to popularize scientific issues and his personal commitment to French-American friendship.

A lifelong Francophile, Trinh Xuan Thuan grew up in Vietnam where he attended a French high school. As a student at the California Institute of Technology, he studied at Ecole Polytechnique in Lausanne for a year. He then went on to study at Princeton University under Lyman Spitzer, the creator of the Hubble telescope.

Professor Thuan currently teaches astrophysics at the University of Virginia. As a guest professor at the University of Paris 7, but also at the Paris-Meudon Observatory, at the Saclay Department of Astrophysics and at the Institute of Astrophysics of Paris (CNRS), Professor Thuan has collaborated regularly with French scientists and is a unique bridge across the Atlantic between France and the United States.

Professor Thuan is one of the leading astrophysicists worldwide and is internationally recognized for his research on extragalactic astronomy and galaxy formation in particular. He is the author of more than 230 articles on the formation and evolution of galaxies, particularly dwarf galaxies, and on the synthesis of light elements in the Big Bang.

Aside from his research and academic work, Professor Thuan also strives to generate public interest in science. His class “Astronomy for Poets” at the University of Virginia, works to engage non-science students on scientific issues and astronomy. For his efforts in popularizing science, Professor Thuan was awarded the 2009 UNESCO Kalinga Prize.

Professor Thuan also explores the religious and humanitarian aspects of science and astronomy. In 2012, he was awardedthe Prix Mondial Cino del Duca from the Institut de France. This prestigious prize recognizes authors whose literary or scientific work conveys a modern humanistic message. He is also a founding member of the International Society for Science and Religion.

Ambassador’s speech: