NRAO Summer Student: 1973-1974, Green Bank
NRAO Mentor: Ed Fomalont
NRAO Project: "Maximum Entropy Data Analysis for Radio Astronomy"
Ph.D., Astrophysics, University of California - Santa Cruz
B.S., Physics and Astronomy, University of Kansas
I was an NRAO summer student in 1973 and 1974. Both summers I worked for Ed Fomalont at Green Bank. It was my first experience with radio astronomy and also my first real opportunity to connect with the astronomy community on a larger scale than had been possible for me as an undergraduate at the University of Kansas. I have always been grateful to NRAO and to Ed for giving the chance to a student from a midwest school not well known for astronomy.
My project with Ed was to explore the use of the maximum entropy method of data analysis in radio astronomy. I also remember doing my rotation as a tour guide for the visitors that would be bussed around the site. I was responsible for operating a small radio telescope which we used to observe the Sun at one of the tourist stops. I managed a few trips each summer to Charlottesville and had the additional opportunity to interact with the summer students and scientific staff there. I did enjoy the summers at NRAO very much and, although my research interests led me elsewhere, my exposure to the techniques of radio astronomy was very useful. I believe that's where I first met Bruce Balick. We subsequently overlapped at University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) and have been friends since.
After my first summer at NRAO, I attended UCSC and got my Ph.D. under Dr. Joe Miller. After graduation, I was selected as a postdoctoral fellow at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. In 1978 I was selected as part of the first class of Space Shuttle astronauts and I was privileged to fly five space missions including the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in 1990, the second HST servicing mission in 1997, and the launch of the Chandra X-ray Observatory in 1999.
After 30 years as a NASA Astronaut and Manager, I am now a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at my alma mater, the University of Kansas.