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Optical and Infrared Astronomy

Research in this division spans extragalactic and galactic astronomy, with special emphases on cosmology, the large-scale structure of the universe, cosmic gamma-ray sources, clusters of galaxies, clusters of stars, the halo of our galaxy, and the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies. Observations are made from orbiting observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Space Telescope, as well as from ground-based observatories such as the MMT, Magellan, and FLWO. SAO/CfA astronomers were the first to uncover the large-scale structure of the distribution of galaxies in space and the acceleration of the Universe. Division scientists have also led the exploration of the very high energy (TeV) gamma-ray universe using atmospheric Cerenkov telescopes. OIR scientists are heavily involved in the analysis of Spitzer data and led the development of the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) for Spitzer. They are active in the development of both advanced optical and infrared instruments for existing ground-based facilities, and concepts for the next generation of large optical/infrared telescopes and instruments, including the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT), a 25-m telescope made up of seven 8.4-m segments, three of which have been fabricated so far.



ASHBY, Matthew L. N., Astrophysicist. B.A. (1988) University of Colorado; M.S. (1991), Ph.D. (1995) Cornell University. Research specialties: Infrared properties of nearby and distant galaxies; active galactic nuclei; galaxy evolution; radiative transfer.

BENBOW, Wystan, Astrophysicist, VERITAS. Ph.D. (2002) University of California, Santa Cruz; M.S. (1998); University of California, Santa Cruz; B.S. (1996) University of Iowa. Research specialties: Very-high-energy (E > 100 GeV) Gamma-ray Astronomy: Observational studies of extragalactic objects; PI of the VERITAS experiment ( & contributor to the development of the CTA experiment (

BROWN, Warren R., Astrophysicist. B.S. (1995) University of Arizona; A.M. (1998), Ph.D. (2002) Harvard University. Research specialties: Hypervelocity stars; Merging white dwarf binaries; Stellar halo of the Milky Way; Optical and infrared instruments for ground-based telescopes..

CALDWELL, Nelson, Astronomer. B.A. (1976) University of South Florida; Ph.D. (1982) Yale University. Research specialties: M31; star clusters in galaxies; dwarf galaxies; star formation in galaxies.

FABRICANT, Daniel G., Senior Physicist; Associate Director, Optical and Infrared Astronomy Division, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. B.S. (1974) Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D. (1978) Harvard University. Research specialties: Galaxy clusters; galaxy evolution; large-scale structure; instrumentation for optical and infrared astronomy.

FALCO-ACOSTA, Emilio, Astronomer. B.S., M.S. (1983), Ph.D. (1986) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Observational cosmology; estimation of cosmological parameters and studies of galaxy evolution; searches for and studies of gravitational lenses in all-sky surveys; searches for extrasolar planets.

FAZIO, Giovanni G., Senior Physicist. B.S. (1954), B.A. (1954) St. Mary’s University, Texas; Ph.D. (1959) Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Infrared astronomy, including satellite and ground-based observations using infrared array cameras; the early universe; star formation and evolution; brown dwarfs; and ultraluminous galaxies.

GEARY, John C., Physicist. B.A. (1967) Michigan State University; M.S. (1969), Ph.D. (1975) University of Arizona. Research specialties: Design and construction of advanced electronic imaging detector systems for astronomical observations.

GELLER, Margaret, Senior Astronomer. A.B. (1970) University of California, Berkeley; Ph.D. (1975) Princeton University; DSHC (1995) Connecticut College; DSHC (1997) Gustavus Adolphus College; DSHC (2000) University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth); DSHC (2009) Colby College; DSHC (2009) Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Spain). Research specialties: Extragalactic astronomy and cosmology; mapping the universe; the formation and history of galaxies like the Milky Way; matter distribution in the universe; structure of the Milky Way; black holes and hypervelocity stars.

HORA, Joseph L., Astronomer; IRAC Program Scientist. B.A. (1985) Northwestern University; Ph.D. (1991) University of Arizona. Research specialties: Infrared astronomy; infrared instrumentation; star formation; planetary nebulae.

HUANG, Jiasheng, Astrophysicist. A.S. (1985), M.S. (1988) Nanjing University; Ph.D. (1997) University of Hawaii. Research specialties: Extragalactic survey; galaxy formation and evolution; cosmology.

KURTZ, Michael J., Astronomer. B.A. (1977) San Francisco State University; Ph.D. (1982) Dartmouth College. Research specialties: Observational cosmology; galaxy photometry and spectroscopy; image-processing techniques; numerical classification methods; scientific information systems; digital libraries.

LACASSE, Marc G., Engineer/Instrument Support Scientist. B.A. (1976) Dartmouth College; M.A. (1978), Ph.D. (1984) University of Rochester. Research specialties: Instrument support, astronomical spectroscopy & imaging, interferometry; image reconstruction; light scattering; polarization.

LATHAM, David W., Senior Astronomer. B.S. (1961) Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D. (1970) Harvard University. Research specialties: Searches for and characterization of extrasolar planets; the formation and early history of the Milky Way Galaxy; the frequency and orbital characteristics of binaries in various stellar populations.

McLEOD, Brian A., Astronomer. B.A. (1988) Cornell University; Ph.D. (1994) University of Arizona. Research specialties: Optical and infrared instrumentation; gravitational lensing; galaxy evolution.

MEIBOM, Soren, Astronomer. Ph.D. (2005) University of Wisconsin. Research specialties: Stars: late type; binary stars; tidal evolution; stellar rotation; stellar photometry and spectroscopy.

SCHILD, Rudolph E., Astronomer. B.S. (1962), M.S. (1964), Ph.D. (1966) University of Chicago. Research specialties: Gravitational lenses and microlensing; quasar structure and photometry; dark matter; quasar time series analysis.

SMITH, Howard A., Senior Astrophysicist. S.B. (1966), S.B. (2) (1966) Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Ph.D. (1976) University of California, Berkeley. Research specialties: Galactic and extragalactic star formation; infrared spectroscopy; instrumentation; Spitzer (IRAC team); Herschel Space Observatory; Infrared Space Observatory; education and public outreach activities.

SZENTGYORGYI, Andrew H., Astrophysicist. B.S. (1979) State University of New York, Stony Brook; M.S. (1983), Ph.D. (1986) University of Wisconsin, Madison. Research specialties: Exoplanets; globular clusters; open clusters; supernovae; astronomical instrumentation; high resolution astronomical spectroscopy.

TOLLS, Volker, Astronomer. Diploma (1988), Ph.D. (1992) University of Cologne. Research specialties: Design and test of radio telescope instrumentation, ground-based and spaceborne, millimeter-to-infrared astronomy; interstellar chemistry; planet detection and imaging; coronagraphic techniques.

TORRES, Guillermo, Astronomer. Ph.D. (1991) University of Cordoba. Research specialties: Binary stars; precise determination of fundamental stellar parameters; pulsating stars; Doppler searches for extrasolar planets; follow-up of transiting extrasolar planets; radial-velocity studies of star-forming regions.

WILLNER, Steven P., Astronomer. A.B. (1971) Harvard College; Ph.D. (1976) California Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Infrared observations of galaxies, both nearby and distant; Development of infrared instruments.


EISENSTEIN, Daniel J., Professor of Astronomy, Harvard University. A.B. (1992) Princeton University; A.M. (1994), Ph. D. (1996) Harvard University. Research specialties: Theoretical and observational cosmology and galaxy evolution.

KIRSHNER, Robert P., Clowes Professor of Science, Harvard University. A.B. (1970) Harvard College; Ph.D. (1975) California Institute of Technology. Research specialties: Supernovae; galaxies; observational cosmology.