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March 13, 2000

UCSC astronomer Donald Osterbrock honored by University of Chicago

By Tim Stephens

Donald Osterbrock, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC and astronomer emeritus at UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, has been chosen to receive the University of Chicago Alumni Medal. Created in 1941 to recognize exceptional career achievements that have benefited society, the medal is the highest honor awarded to alumni of the university. The award will be presented to Osterbrock at a ceremony in June.

Photo: Donald Osterbrock
Donald Osterbrock
Osterbrock earned his B.S. in physics and his M.S. and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Chicago, and in 1992 the university awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Science. (He also holds honorary doctorates from Ohio State University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.)

Osterbrock's research has made influential contributions to the body of knowledge on interstellar matter, gaseous nebulae, and the nuclei of active galaxies. His books on the subjects are standards in the field. Osterbrock also has published several books on the history of American astronomy. His most recent is Yerkes Observatory, 1892-1950: The Birth, Near Death, and Resurrection of a Scientific Research Institution (University of Chicago Press, 1997).

Osterbrock came to UCSC in 1972 and served as director of Lick Observatory from 1973 to 1981. Before joining UCSC's faculty, he was affiliated with Princeton University, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of Wisconsin.

Osterbrock is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and numerous professional organizations. He also is a foreign associate of the Royal Astronomical Society. The American Astronomical Society and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific have both lauded Osterbrock's career with their lifetime achievement awards, two of astronomy's highest honors. In 1997, the Royal Astronomical Society awarded Osterbrock its highest honor, the Gold Medal, in recognition of his lifetime achievement in the field of astronomy.

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