The Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD) of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) is presenting its 2021 Early Career Award to Dr. Javier García of the California Institute of Technology. The award recognizes his calculations of atomic data and implementation of relativistic reflection models to understand accreting black holes and neutron stars.

LAD’s Early Career Award is given to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field within 10 years of receiving a PhD. Dr. García has established a unique career at the intersection of computational atomic physics and high-energy photoionization/spectral modeling. He performed atomic structure calculations and photoionization computations for medium-atomic-number elements, developed improved X-ray absorption models of the interstellar medium, performed a recalibration of the high-energy detectors on the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, and is leading a project on the effects of high density on plasma calculations. However, Dr. García is primarily known for his work on modeling the ionization structure and spectra of X-ray-heated accretion disks around black holes and neutron stars. He is now leading projects on the analysis of vast archival X-ray observations using new reflection and spectral-timing models. He has been an advocate for the importance of laboratory astrophysics, particularly atomic physics data relevant to X-ray observations.

Dr. García received a BS in physics from La Universidad del Zulia and an MS in physics from the
Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research, both in Venezuela. In 2010 he received his PhD in physics from the Catholic University of America (CUA) working with Dr. Timothy Kallman from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Prof. Steven Kraemer (CUA). Dr. García was a research associate at Western Michigan University and at the University of Maryland before becoming a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in 2012. He then moved to Caltech as a postdoctoral scholar and was appointed Research Assistant Professor at Caltech in 2019. Dr. García was also appointed Senior Alexander von Humboldt Fellow in 2016, working at the Dr. Karl-Remeis Observatory in Bamberg, Germany. Dr. García is a member of the operations team for NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) and on the science working groups for three new X-ray astronomy missions: Athena, Lynx, and the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE).

The LAD Early Career Award includes a cash award, a framed certificate, and an invited lecture by the recipient at a meeting of the Laboratory Astrophysics Division.