December 12, 2021 – Professor John F Hawley, Shaw Prize Laureate in Astronomy 2013 and John Dowman Hamilton Professor of Astronomy at the University of Virginia, USA, passed away at his home in Earlysville, at the age of 63.
Professor Hawley contributed greatly to the theory of accretion by his study and discovery of the magnetorotational instability (MRI) made with Professor Steven A Balbus, with whom Professor Hawley shared his Prize. Together they demonstrated that this instability leads to turbulence and is a viable mechanism for angular momentum transport in astrophysical accretion disks.
To Professor Hawley, one of the most amazing and profound accomplishments of the human mind is indeed humanity’s understanding of the cosmos. In accepting the Shaw Prize in 2013, Professor Hawley said, “Through increasing complex simulation and modelling, as well as tremendous advances in data acquisition and analysis, humanity stands at the brink of attaining answers to heretofore-unanswerable mysteries, both on Earth and in the heavens. These new times will be most exciting as we make use of these new tools and methodologies to better ‘grasp the law of nature and make use of it.’”
Professor Hawley will always be remembered for his profound contributions to astrophysics, and even more, his spirit as a true scientist that we all hold dear. The Shaw Prize Foundation is deeply saddened to hear the news and we send our sincere condolences to his beloved family, friends, and colleagues .