UPDATED: 10:18 a.m. Asteroid number 15338 will now be known as “Dufault,” in honor of Michele Dufault ’11, a Saybrook College senior who died in a laboratory accident in April.
The naming has been included in the July 15 edition of “Minor Planet Circulars,” a publication of the International Astronomical Union that compiles information on minor bodies in the solar system. The asteroid’s citation, written by physics professor Megan Urry, notes Dufault’s interest and outreach efforts in the sciences.
Urry, who served as Dufault’s summer research advisor after her freshman year, said in an email that the idea to name the asteroid emerged in April, in a meeting with faculty and friends of Dufault.
“I can’t think of a more fitting memorial to Michele, whose thoughts were always stretching to the furthest reaches of the Universe,” Urry said. “Now she is officially part of that Universe.”
The group is also currently raising funds for a summer fellowship to be given in memory of Dufault.
Read the complete description below:
(15338) Dufault = 1994 AZ4
Discovered 1994 Jan. 5 by Spacewatch at Kitt Peak.
Named in honor of Michele Dufault (1988-2011), an outstanding astronomy and physics student at Yale College who died in an accident just weeks before graduation. Michele was passionate about science and about encouraging others, especially young women, to pursue science careers. Citation by M. Urry.