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October 29, 2001

Fellowship supports graduate student working on astronomical instrumentation

By Tim Stephens

A new fellowship at UCSC designed to support graduate work in astronomical instrument-building may be the first of its kind. The fellowship is funded by the recently established Henry Bachmann Endowed Chair for Astronomical Instrumentation.

Henry Bachmann, circa 1900. Photo: Courtesy of the Mary Lea Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory.
Joseph Miller, director of UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, is the first Bachmann Professor. His student Andrew Sheinis, who has designed and built instruments for the Keck Telescopes, is the first graduate student recipient of the accompanying stipend.

The story behind the endowment starts in 1997, when Sally Bachman Allen made a small donation to UCSC after reading an article in her local paper about the need for repairs to the historic dome housing the oldest telescope at Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton. With her contribution, she included a note saying that her grandfather, Henry Bachmann, had been an instrument maker for the observatory in the early 20th century.

This information prompted university development officers to do some research. They turned up, among other relics, a spectrograph built by Bachmann, photos, and people who had known him and Allen's father, who grew up on the mountain. Inspired by these finds, Allen and her banker husband, C. Donald Allen, decided to endow a chair for astronomical instrumentation to honor Bachmann's achievements.

The Allens' $350,000 gift includes the annual graduate fellowship. "I wanted to do something that would honor both my father and my grandfather, and hopefully attract graduate students that have talent but not necessarily funding," Allen said.


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