Astronomy alumni join Chancellor Blumenthal in panel discussion Sept. 26

Three distinguished alumni and a current UC Santa Cruz graduate student join Chancellor George Blumenthal to discuss astronomy, space, and discovery

Douglas Duncan
Steven Hawley
Geoffrey Marcy
Caroline Morley

Three highly accomplished astrophysicists, all former students of UC Santa Cruz Chancellor George Blumenthal, will join the chancellor and a current astronomy graduate student on Saturday, September 26, from 2:30 to 4 p.m. for a wide-ranging conversation about astronomy, space, and discovery, after which the panelists will take questions from the audience.

The event, titled "An Incubator of Stars," will take place in the Digital Arts Research Center, Room 108, on the UC Santa Cruz campus. Tickets are $10 (free for students) and are available online. Tickets include parking in the Performing Arts parking lot.

Part of the UC Santa Cruz 50th Anniversary Founders Celebration weekend and the True Originals Notable Alumni Lecture Series, the event highlights the longstanding strength of the astronomy and astrophysics program at UC Santa Cruz. The panelists include:

  • Douglas Duncan (Ph.D., astronomy and astrophysics, '80), director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • Steven Hawley (Ph.D., astronomy and astrophysics, '77), professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Kansas and a former NASA astronaut
  • Geoffrey Marcy (Ph.D., astronomy and astrophysics, '82), professor of astronomy at UC Berkeley
  • Caroline Morley, a Ph.D. candidate in astronomy and astrophysics and recipient of a 2015 Chancellor's Fellowship

Chancellor Blumenthal, a theoretical astrophysicist who has made path-breaking contributions to our understanding of the origin of structure in the universe, will moderate the discussion. Much of his research has focused on the role of dark matter in the formation and evolution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. He is the coauthor of two textbooks, 21st Century Astronomy and Understanding Our Universe.

Douglas Duncan

Duncan is an astronomer at the University of Colorado, where he directs the Fiske Planetarium. He was part of the project that first found sunspot cycles on other stars, joined the staff of the Hubble Space Telescope, and currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council's Science Committee. He has served as National Education Coordinator for the American Astronomical Society, and he leads educational trips throughout the world to watch total eclipses of the sun and to see the northern lights. In 2014, he began regular science commentary on the Colorado Public Radio program "Colorado Matters."

Steven Hawley

Hawley flew on five space shuttle missions and served in numerous management positions for NASA. Among his accomplishments as an astronaut was the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope in 1990 and a return mission to service the telescope in 1997. Hawley also served on the 1999 flight that deployed the third of NASA's "Great Observatories," the Chandra X-ray Observatory. He has logged more than 32 days in space and was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2007. Hawley served as the first chief astronaut of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center from 2003 to 2004, and as director of astromaterials research and exploration science from 2003 to 2008. He is currently director of the University of Kansas engineering physics program, professor of physics and astronomy, and adjunct professor of aerospace engineering.

Geoffrey Marcy

Marcy is one of the pioneers and leaders in the discovery and characterization of planets around other stars. His discoveries include detection of the first multiple-planet system, the first Saturn-mass planet, the first Neptune-mass planet, and the first transiting planet. In recent years, Marcy’s research has focused on the search for Earth-size planets around other stars. He was a co-investigator of NASA's Kepler Mission to identify Earth-like planets. In 2012, Marcy was appointed to the Alberts Chair in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. A member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, he has received many awards and honors for his achievements.

Caroline Morley

Caroline Morley is a graduate student in astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, studying the atmospheres of exoplanets and brown dwarfs (objects with a mass in between giant planets and small stars). She is the first author of five published papers. Morley has received the 2011 Harriet G. Jenkins Predoctoral Fellowship from NASA, 2012 Osterbrock Fellowship, 2014 ARCS Foundation Scholarship, and 2015 Chancellor's Fellowship.

For more information about this event, contact Meg Corman at (831) 459-1305 or