Professor receives award for excellence in astrophysics

MSU professor and astrophysicist Sachiko Tsuruta will be awarded the Marcel Grossman Prize on July 13 in Italy for her work over the past 51 years. Tsurata, a University of Washington graduate and Ph.D. recipient from Columbia University, is recognized among other leading astrophysicists for her contributions to the scientific community, specifically her work with neutron stars.

Tsuruta has a vast work history outside of her last 26 years at MSU, having been involved with the Smithsonian and Harvard Observatory, NASA and the Max Planck Institute in Munich, Germany.

Arguably her most important work, Tsuruta predicted the existence of neutron stars as a doctoral student in 1967, prior to the discovery of pulsars that are now known to exist around neutron stars. The astrophysicist has published her work in over 230 papers and presented over 330 lectures at conferences. Tsuruta plans to add to that number soon, presenting a lecture titled “How hot neutron stars are” at the Marcel Grossman Prize presentation on July 13.

Encouragement from her father drove Tsuruta to pursue a career in academia. Raised in Yokohama, Japan with five sisters, Tsuruta said her father wanted to become a scholar, but instead worked for a beer producer in Japan. Tsuruta first studied English but switched to astrophysics when she “couldn’t compete with English majors in the United States,” according to MSU News.