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The Lodewijk Woltjer Lecture honours Bożena Czerny for outstanding scientific distinction

The 2022 Lodewijk Woltjer Lecture - an award of the European Astronomical Society - is awarded to Prof. Bożena Czerny (Center for Theoretical Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland) for her contributions to our understanding of the physics of accretion disks and the broad line regions in active galactic nuclei, as well as for her application of quasars to constrain the cosmological model at high redshift and open a window on the role of dark energy.


Prof. Bożena Czerny (born Muchotrzeb) studied theoretical physics at Warsaw University, where she obtained her MSc degree in 1974. In 1978 she started working as a research assistant at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CAMK), Warsaw, Poland in the field of accretion and she obtained her PhD in 1984. Prof Czerny was gradually promoted at CAMK and eventually reached full professor position in 1996. In 2015 she moved to a full time professor position at the Center for Theoretical Physics, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland, keeping a part-time employment at CAMK till the end of 2017. Prof. Czerny has served in several committees, such as International Union of Pure and Applied Physics, Council of the National Science Center (NCN), and Polish Astronomical Society (President in 2011-2013). She served as a Scientific Editor of the American Astronomical Society journals from 2012 to 2020. In 2019 she received the Ernst Mach Honorary Medal for Merit in the Physical Sciences awarded by the Czech Academy of Sciences.


Prof. Czerny focuses on modelling the physical processes close to black holes in the centers of active galaxies and in stellar binary systems, and on comparison of the models to the observational data. Her early works started with the understanding of the matter inflow from the inner edge of the disk toward the black hole horizon, which culminated in the contribution to formulation of the slim disk theory. She was among the pioneers in studies of the X-ray variability of active galactic nuclei and of the vertical stratification of the accretion disks, including the idea of the disk warm corona, collaborating with Leicester, Cambridge and Harvard colleagues while working on the emission from accretion disks in AGN. She studied the accretion disk instabilities, comparing their consequences to the observational data. In 2011 she formulated a new model of the Broad Line Region structure in active galactic nuclei, based on the radiation pressure acting on dust, called FRADO (Failed Radiatively Accelerated Dusty Outflow) model. Recently, she has focused her attention on the application of the light echo measurements of distant quasars to determine the distance to these sources and to derive constraints on the cosmological parameters.


Prof. Czerny was a long-time scientific editor of The Astrophysical Journal published by the American Astronomical Society. Her lecturing and publishing activities include the popularization of astronomy and science in general. Her expertise in research led her to win numerous grants. She is currently PI of a 5-year Maestro grant awarded by the Polish National Science Centre, and since Autumn 2021 she is one of the four PIs of an ERC Synergy Grant aimed to use multi-probe methods to establish the distance scale in the Universe with unprecedented accuracy, which includes also the quasar-based constraints.