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Jill S. Price (1957–1996)

Published onSep 01, 1996
Jill S. Price (1957–1996)

Jill S. Price was born on 7 August 1957, in Morristown, New Jersey. She received a BA in astronomy and physics in 1979 from Swarthmore College, and a PhD in astrophysics in 1984 from the University of Wyoming. Her dissertation, completed under the direction of Gary Grasdalen, was entitled "A Comparative Study of Dust, Gas, and Young Stars in Three Small Galaxies."

After three years at Bucknell University as a visiting assistant professor, Jill was hired at Bentley College in Waltham, Massachusetts as an assistant professor in 1987. At Bentley she served as physics coordinator in the Department of Natural Sciences, taught a variety of physics and astronomy courses, and was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 1993. As a teacher, Jill served as a mentor, tutor, role model, and friend to students ranging from elementary school to college. Bentley College has established a scholarship fund in Jill's memory.

While teaching, Jill continued her optical and infrared studies of the interstellar medium in external galaxies, publishing in both the Astrophysical and Astronomical Journals. She was particularly interested in the properties of interstellar dust and HII regions, and studied variations in those properties in nearby galaxies.

In addition to her research, Jill also became involved in the discussion of gender bias and sexual harassment in astronomy, and wrote many articles for Mercury magazine on that topic. Jill served on the AAS' s Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy, and founded a job referral service and mentoring program for women astronomers. In addition to this work she was active in public education, writing popular articles for Mercury magazine, giving public lectures to local students and townspeople, judging science fairs, and much more. Jill was also an active member of her local church, where she sang in the choir and taught Sunday school.

Jill died suddenly of heart failure at the age of 38 on 2 January 1996. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Stephen F. Mason, and two beloved children, Petey and Lucy. Jill was an energetic, spirited, and outspoken individual. She will be remembered for her generous nature, her caring, and her constant willingness to help anyone in need. Jill will be sorely missed by her family, friends, and colleagues, who are all richer for her contributions to their lives.

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