Yingjie Peng Wins 2016 MERAC Prize and 2016 Chinese Youth Qianren Honour

The European Astronomical Society (EAS) has announced the awardees of its 2016 prizes. The 2016 MERAC Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in Observational Astrophysics has been awarded to Yingjie Peng(彭影杰), a current KIAA faculty member, for his thesis on the simplicity of the evolving galaxy population and the origin of the Schechter form of the galaxy stellar mass function.


There are yearly three MERAC Prizes awarded by the European Astronomical Society. The prizes of 20'000 € are for each of the three categories: Theoretical Astrophysics, Observational Astrophysics and New Technologies (Instrumental/Computational). All three awardees are invited to give a plenary lecture at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) to be held in Athens, Greece on 4 – 8 July 2016, and also will give a lecture in Switzerland under the patronage of the FONDATION MERAC.


Yingjie Peng’s PhD thesis focused on the analysis of high quality data from large sky surveys both locally and at high redshift, and introduced a novel phenomenological, observationally-based approach to study the formation and evolution of the galaxy population. The goal was to use the observational material as directly as possible in order to identify the simplest empirical "laws" for the evolution of the population. This approach has successfully explained the origin of the Schechter form of the stellar mass function and reproduced many observed essential features of the evolving galaxy population over cosmic time. The associated papers (Peng et al. 2010 & 2012) describing this simple and innovative approach have become some of the most highly cited papers in galaxy formation and evolution.


The PhD thesis of Yingjie Peng was carried out at the Institute for Astronomy at ETH Zurich, Switzerland between October 2007 and September 2012, under the supervision of Prof. Simon Lilly.


The European Astronomical Society press release document is available at:






Yingjie Peng has also been awarded the Youth Qianren Honor in China in 2016. Please see http://www.1000plan.org/qrjh/article/64754 for the official announcement. He is listed at No. 4.