CFA Astronomer Robert Kirshner Elected President of AAS

Press Release From: American Astronautical Society
Posted: Friday, February 14, 2003

Cambridge, MA -- Robert P. Kirshner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) has been elected the next President of the American Astronomical Society.

"It is a thrill for me to be elected President of the AAS. Since joining as a graduate student 30 years ago, I've gotten a tremendous amount out of AAS journals, meetings, and actions on behalf of all astronomers. I hope I can repay some of that debt," says Kirshner, the Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University.

Chair of the Harvard Astronomy Department from 1990-1997, Kirshner served as Associate Director for Optical and Infrared Astronomy at the Center for Astrophysics from 1998 until this month.

"I am delighted that our esteemed colleague, Bob Kirshner, has been elected President of the American Astronomical Society -- a well-deserved tribute to his many revolutionary contributions to our knowledge of the Universe," says CfA Director Irwin I. Shapiro.

Professor Kirshner is an author of more than 200 research papers dealing with supernovae, the large-scale distribution of galaxies, and the size and shape of the Universe. His work with the "High-Z Supernova Team" on the acceleration of the Universe was dubbed the "Science Breakthrough of the Year for 1998" by Science Magazine. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998.

Kirshner graduated from Harvard College in 1970 and received a Ph.D. in astronomy at Caltech in 1975. After a postdoc at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, he joined the faculty at the University of Michigan for nine years before moving to the CfA in 1986.

Astronomer Kirshner is a frequent public lecturer on science. He is also the teacher of Science A-35, a core curriculum course for 250 Harvard undergraduates entitled "Matter in the Universe." His popular-level book "The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos" was published by Princeton University Press in October 2002.

Professor Kirshner is the latest in a series of distinguished astronomers from Harvard College Observatory and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to be AAS President. That list includes Harlow Shapley, Donald Menzel, Leo Goldberg, and Andrea Dupree.

Kirshner will begin serving as President-Elect at the end of the Society's annual membership meeting in May. After one year as President-Elect, he will begin two years as President, from June 2004 through June 2006, followed by one year as Past-President. He will succeed Catherine A. Pilachowski of Indiana University, Bloomington to become the 40th President.

Note to Editors: See for additional background and photo.

The American Astronomical Society, established in 1899, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists organized into six research divisions study the origin, evolution, and ultimate fate of the universe.

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