Leif Andersson Award for Service and Outreach

The LPL Leif Andersson Award for Service and Outreach is awarded annually to a PTYS graduate student in recognition for attention to broader impacts and involvement in activities outside of academic responsibilities that benefit the department, university, and the larger community.

Leif Andersson went from being a national television quiz show star in Sweden to an LPL researcher. At LPL, he worked on mapping craters on the Far Side of the Moon based on Lunar Orbiter images from the 1960s. He died from cancer in 1979, at age 35. His family established the Leif Andersson Award for Graduate Student Service and Outreach in 2018.

Leif (prounced “Lafe”, with a long “a”) was born in Stenastorp, Sweden, and became a leader of a group of schoolchildren interested in science, forming a science fiction club and participating with his friends in launching homemade rockets in the late 1950s. He acquired fame in Sweden on a game show whose name translates as “Double or Nothing—The 10,000 Kronor Question” (based on the “The $64,000 Question” in America). In the show, a contestant was quizzed on a particular subject. When a contestant won the 10,000 kronor prize based on knowledge of astronomy, Leif, then 16, was encouraged to challenge that contestant, and Leif won. He went on to get a degree from Lund University in Sweden, before moving to the United States to earn a Ph.D. at Indiana University. He completed his Ph.D., based on observations of Pluto, in 1974, then moved to LPL. A lunar crater (appropriately, on the far side) is named Andersson in his honor, and there is an asteroid named 9223 Leifandersson. Given his connection with the popularization of science through television and science fiction, it is appropriate to name an award for service and public outreach in his honor.