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UIS to host presentations by noted astronomers

October 24, 2007

Contact: John Martin, 206-8342, jmart5@uis.edu

SPRINGFIELD -- The University of Illinois at Springfield will host public presentations by two internationally known astronomers on Friday, November 9. Both events are free and open to the public; advance reservations are not required.

At 11:30 a.m. in University Hall, room 2034, Roberta Humphreys will lead "A Conversation on Being WISE: Women in Science and Engineering." That evening, at 7:30 p.m. in University Hall, room 2008, Kris Davidson will speak on "The Violent Supernova Impostor."

Davidson and Humphreys are both faculty members at the University of Minnesota, where Davidson is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Astronomy and Humphreys is Institute of Technology Distinguished Professor of Astronomy. Both collaborate with UIS Assistant Professor of Astronomy/Physics John Martin on ongoing research projects involving the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini Telescope in Chile.

Picture of Roberta Humphreys
Dr. Roberta Humphreys

Humphreys' brown bag seminar will focus on how women can succeed professionally in scientific fields. Rather than lecturing, she will outline her own experiences, as well as issues that women regularly encounter in academia and science, then let audience interest determine the rest of the conversation. Young women considering careers in science, as well as anyone with an interest in gender equity, are especially encouraged to attend.

UIS sponsors of the seminar include the Astronomy-Physics program, Natural Sciences Division, the Women's Center, and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Picture of Kris Davidson
Dr. Kris Davidson

Davidson's talk -- designed for anyone, at any age level, with at least a casual interest in astronomy -- will explore the "supernova impostor" phenomenon. While millions of stars end in supernova explosions, a few massive stars, such as Eta Carinae, experience violent outbursts that rival supernovae in brightness, but that somehow do not destroy the star. Davidson will discuss Eta Carinae's history, why it's important for science, and how it exemplifies the impact that the Hubble Space Telescope has had on astronomy.

Humphreys' credentials include the University of Minnesota George W. Taylor Award for Distinguished Research and Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Distinguished Senior Scientist Award. Her research includes ground-breaking observational studies of the structure of our galaxy, the largest stars in our galaxy, and stars in nearby galaxies. She has also helped set national science policy as a board member of both the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy and the Hubble Space Telescope Institute Council.

Davidson leads an international team of scientists as the principal investigator on the Hubble Space Telescope Treasury Project on Eta Carinae. He has conducted research on a diverse group of objects distinguished by their special characteristics, including QSOs (Quasi Stellar Objects), the Crab Nebula supernova remnant, x-ray sources, and pulsars. His work and ideas have revolutionized both professional and public understanding of the most massive stars in our universe.

Advance reservations are not required to attend either program. For more information, contact John Martin at 206-8342.

 

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The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 42 degree programs: 21 bachelorís, 20 masterís, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.

UIS: Creating a Brilliant Future

 


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