From The Shaw Prize:
In the fall of 1990, I left Hawaii to be a Harvard-Smithsonian Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On 30 August 1992, using the University of Hawaii’s 2.2-meter telescope on Mauna Kea, David and I discovered the object 1992 QB1, the first acknowledged representative of the Kuiper Belt, a large band of primitive bodies beyond Neptune. Before it received its official title (15760) 1992 QB1, we nicknamed our newly found object “Smiley” after the shrewdly intelligent British spymaster George Smiley in John Le Carre’s spy novels (I think Smiley would approve). The 1992 – 1993 academic year was spent at UC Berkeley as a Hubble Fellow, followed by a year at Stanford. In the fall of 1994, I joined the faculty at Harvard University as a professor in the Astronomy Department. This was followed by a faculty position at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands from 1998 to 2001.
Upon returning to the United States in the fall of 2001, I started working on instrumentation as Technical Staff at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Massachusetts. This change of direction from traditional science was prompted by a desire to learn how to build instruments: I had always felt that my education was lacking in this area, and I very much wanted to learn how to make things work. At Lincoln Laboratory, I developed an interest in the coherent properties of light and how to make use of them.
Besides my research activities, I have served on several scientific committees, including NASA’s Origin of the Solar System Committee, various telescope time allocation committees, and most recently, the National Academy of Sciences’ Planetary Science Decadal Survey for 2013 – 2022.
Read more from Dr. Jane X. Luu’s autobiography from The Shaw Prize and check out Science Mag’s No Starry-Eyed Astronomer, Jane Luu honored with the Shaw Prize in Astronomy and
the Kavli Prize in Astrophysics from MIT Lincoln Laboratory, or Hyphen’s WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH PROFILE: JANE LUU.