Judith (Rubin) Young (September 15, 1952 – May 23, 2014)[1] was an American physicist, astronomer,[2] and educator. The American Physical Society honored Young with the first Maria Goeppert-Mayer Award for being the best young physicist in the world in 1986.[3][4][5] Astronomer Nick Scoville of CalTech writes of her research: "Her pioneering galactic structure research included some of the earliest mapping of CO emission in galaxies followed by the most extensive surveys molecular gas and star formation in nearby galaxies."[6]

Judith Young
BornSeptember 15, 1952
DiedMay 23, 2014
Alma mater
  • Harvard University
  • University of Minnesota
AwardsMaria Goeppert-Mayer Award
Scientific career


Young received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Astronomy from Harvard University and graduated with Honors.[7][8] She received her M.S and Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Minnesota.[8]

Young began a postdoctoral fellowship at UMass in 1979, collaborating with Nick Z. Scoville in a study which measured the cold gas and carbon monoxide content of galaxies.[5] The pair made the discovery that the distribution of light and gas is proportional in galaxies.[5] The American Astronomical Society awarded her the Annie J. Cannon Prize for this work in 1982.[3][5]

Young became an assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985.[7] In 1989, Young was promoted to associate professor with tenure, and became a Full Professor in 1993.[7] She published more than 130 papers, mentored 5 Ph.D. candidates, and supervised 15 undergraduate research projects.[8]

Young is perhaps best known for her Sunwheel project.[9] Young's goal for this project was to bring astronomy down to earth and to an empty lot behind the football stadium at the UMass-Amherst campus.[8][9] In addition to her academic work, Young volunteered on the UMass campus and in her local community.[7][8]

Personal lifeEdit

Young was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter of astronomer Vera Rubin and mathematical biophysicist Robert Rubin.[10][11]

She was married to Michael Young from 1975 to 1990[12] and had a daughter, Laura.[4]

Judith Young died from complications resulting from multiple myeloma, a disease she lived with for 8 years.[4][13]


  1. ^ "Bio". digitalcommons.unl.edu.
  2. ^ Larsen, Kristine (23 July 1928). "Vera Cooper Rubin". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b Oakes, E.H. (2007). Encyclopedia of World Scientists. Facts on File Science Library. Facts On File, Incorporated. p. 792. ISBN 978-1-4381-1882-6. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  4. ^ a b c "Maria Goeppert Mayer Award". APS Physics | APS Home. 1 July 2016. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Judy Young, Astronomer Who Built Campus Sunwheel". Office of News & Media Relations | UMass Amherst. 28 May 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  6. ^ Teske, Richard G. (23 May 2014). "Judith S. Young (1952 - 2014)". American Astronomical Society. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d "Obituary: Judy Young, Astronomer Who Built Campus Sunwheel". Office of News & Media Relations | UMass Amherst. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  8. ^ a b c d e "Judith S. Young (1952 - 2014) | American Astronomical Society". aas.org. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  9. ^ a b "A Megalith for the Millennium » American Scientist". www.americanscientist.org. Retrieved 2016-12-05.
  10. ^ "Vera Rubin – The Gruber Foundation". Retrieved December 26, 2016.
  11. ^ Sullivan, Patricia (2008-02-05). "Robert J. Rubin, 81; Scientist Whose Work Combined Disciplines". ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-10-26.
  12. ^ Gardner, Sue Ann, "Judith Sharn Young" (1997).Faculty Publications, UNL Libraries. 115.https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/libraryscience/115
  13. ^ "Judith S. Young (1952 - 2014) | American Astronomical Society". aas.org. Retrieved 2018-10-26.