Academic Genealogy

Much like biological genealogy, academic 'ancestors' pass on certain traits and attitudes to their offspring. By tracing our pasts, we may understand our present a bit more thoroughly. Unlike biological genealogy, it's a linear regression and thus much easier to trace.

Charles Weston Danforth
BA: Swarthmore College
MA: Johns Hopkins University
PhD Johns Hopkins University
Thesis Advisor: William P. Blair

Other Info: Like some of my 'ancestors', I am an avid mountain climber and spectroscopist. The first is purely coincidental.

William P. Blair
BA: Olivet College, MI 1975
MS: University of Michigan, 1977
PhD: University of Michigan, 1981
Thesis Advisor: Robert P. Kirshner (confirmed by Blair and Kirshner)

Other Info: Currently at JHU. Research interests include supernova remnants and cataclysmic variable stars. Bill was involved in the Astro 1 and Astro 2 missions, was the head of Science Operations for the FUSE mission, and is now involved in JWST planning.

Robert P. Kirshner
BA: Harvard College, 1970
PhD: CalTech, 1974
Thesis Advisor: J. Bev Oke (confirmed by Oke and Kirshner)

Other Info: Currently at Harvard where he was the Department Chair from 1990-97. Interests include SN, SNRs, galaxy dynamics, evolution and large-scale distribution. Kirshner's other students (my adademic uncles) are (from Kirshner):
University of Michigan

  • Peter N. Kupferman, no longer in astronomy?
  • Bradley C. Whitmore, staff, STScI
  • William P. Blair (1981), research professor Johns Hopkins University
  • Robert A. Fesen (1981), Professor, Dartmouth
  • Eliot M. Malumuth, staff, GSFC
  • J. Ward Moody (1985), Professor, Brigham Young University
  • Michael V. Newberry (1987), President of Axiom Research (software company, Tucson AZ)
  • Ronald G. Eastman (1989), Lawrence Livermore National Labs
    Harvard University
  • R. Chris Smith, scientific staff CTIO
  • Brian Schmidt, scientific staff Australian National University
  • Huan Lin, Fermilab
  • Adam Riess (1996), staff, STScI
  • Chun Shing Jason Pun (1998), University of Hong Kong
  • Saurabh Jha, Miller Fellow at UC Berkeley

  • John Beverly Oke
    BA: 1948, MA: 1950 University of Toronto
    PhD: Princeton University, 1953
    Died: March 3, 2004, Victoria, BC
    Thesis Advisor: Lyman Spitzer, Jr. (confirmed by Oke)

    Other Info: Faculty at Toronto (1953-58) and Caltech (1958-2004). Associate Director Hale Observatories (Palomar, Mt. Wilson) 1970-78.

    Lyman Spitzer, Jr
    BA: Yale University, 1935
    MA: Cambridge ?
    PhD: Princeton University, 1938
    Died: March 31, 1997, Princeton, NJ
    Thesis Advisor: Henry Norris Russell

    Other Info: Spitzer was certainly one of the biggest names in 20th century astronomy. He is creditted with founding the Princeton Plasma Physics Lab and, in 1946, envisioning the Hubble Space Telescope. Spitzer was also an avid mountaineer and alpinist. There are both a Spitzer Fellowship (for astrophysics) and a Spitzer Grant (for mountaineering). His other students included George B. Field* and J. Michael Shull.

    Other Bios: by Leon Mestel, by R. D. Hazeltine, Princeton Univ.

    Henry Norris Russell
    BA: Princeton University, 1897
    PhD: Princeton University, 1900: "An analysis of the way that Mars perturbs the orbit of the asteroid Eros"
    Died: Feb. 18, 1957, Princeton, N.J.
    Thesis Advisor: Charles Augustus Young

    Other Info: Russell is perhaps most famous in astronomical circles for codiscovering the color-magnitude relationship in stellar astronomy and devising what has become known as the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. Russell was also an avid mountain climber. His more famous students included Harlow Shapley (1913), Dunham, Donald H. Menzel (1924), F. B. Wood, and fellow Swarthmore Graduate C. E. M. Sitterly.

    Charles Augustus Young
    Born: December 15, 1834
    Died: January 3, 1908 Hanover, NH
    BA: Dartmouth College 1853
    Academic Advisor: ?

    Other Info: Young was an authority on the sun and a pioneer in spectroscopy. The day he died, there was a total solar eclipse. His students included Edwin B. Frost (1887?), Dayton C. Miller (1890). As far as I know, Young never received a doctorate and it is unclear who he worked under. But it is likely he received much of his early training from his father and maternal grandfather, both of whom were professors of natural philosophy at Dartmouth. He moved to Princeton in 1877.

    * George Field's academic Genealogy is presented in the front pages of the 1995 ASP Conference Series Vol 80. His students include C. Heiles, C-M. Leung, C. McKee, P. Meszaros, T. Mouschovias, L. Cowie, P. Shapiro and I. Wasserman.
    Anyone with additional information or corrections is urged to
    mail me. Thanks!
    Charles Danforth
    Last modified: Wed Nov 20 13:29:35 MST 2013