Dr. Jane Rigby Named 2022 LGBTQ+ Scientist of the Year

June 2, 2022
Dr. Jane Rigby

Credit: Out to Innovate

University of Arizona College of Science alum Dr. Jane Rigby, an astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Flight Center and the Operations Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, has been recognized by Out To Innovate as the 2022 LGBTQ+ Scientist of the Year for her outstanding contributions to her field through design, research, and management.

Rigby earned degrees in both physics and astronomy and astrophysics at Pennsylvania State University and her Ph.D. in astronomy from UArizona. She develops new techniques to study galaxy evolution, star-forming galaxies, and active galactic nuclei.

"When I was a student, all through college, I wasn't aware of any LGBTQ role models,” Rigby said in a recent interview with NASA. “I hope I'm part of the last generation who grow up without queer role models.  I hope this award brings hope to queer folks pursuing careers in STEM, and I hope it reminds organizations that inclusion matters every single day.  I also see this award as a recognition of how transformative Webb will be for astronomy — I'm so proud of helping that telescope become a reality."

In addition to her work with the James Webb Space Telescope, Rigby and her team at NASA, with international collaborators, have led many successful research campaigns, collecting data from the Keck and Magellan Observatories and the Hubble Space Telescope. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications and has also given countless professional and public presentations on her research and on the James Webb Space Telescope.

Rigby has been recognized for her research, mentorship, and diversity-related work with awards such as the John C. Lindsay Memorial Award for Space Science and served on the 2020 Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics for the National Academies. Rigby also serves as a trustee of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and was a founding member of the AAS Committee for Sexual-Orientation and Gender Minorities in Astronomy.

Read more about Dr. Rigby's work at NASA here.