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Chris Howk

Chris Howk

Dr. Chris Howk is a research scientist at The Johns Hopkins University where he works with the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) team. He received his B.A. in Physics from Hanover College, a small liberal arts school in Indiana, in 1994. From there he moved to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, obtaining his Ph.D. from the Astronomy Department in March 1999 under the guidance of Dr. Blair Savage. Howk left the cold confines of Wisconsin for the warmer shores of the Chesapeake, joining the FUSE group at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland, shortly after receiving his degree.

Though he went to college intending to study medicine, physics led his heart and mind to follow another career path. "I decided to study astronomy, of all the branches of physics, because it seemed to have the greatest number of unanswered questions. In astronomy you learn something new and surprising almost every day."

As an undergraduate, Howk spent a summer doing research at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia. His experiences with radio astronomy not only cemented his desire to study astronomy, but introduced him to studies of the gas and dust between the stars (the so-called interstellar medium), which dominate his research interests to this day.

At Wisconsin, Howk focussed on studies of the interstellar medium. He used the spectrographs on board the Hubble Space Telescope to study the motions and composition of the gas in our own Milky Way. However, for his thesis he extended his gaze to other galaxies, studying edge-on systems such as NGC 4013 with the newly commissioned WIYN observatory. WIYN (Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO) is a 3.5-meter new technology telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, near Tucson, Arizona. Since that time, he has spent much of his time analyzing the large amount of data being produced by the FUSE mission.

In his spare time, Howk enjoys playing ultimate frisbee, singing, and sailing on the Bay. He also has been known to read a Patrick O'Brian novel while listening to Great Big Sea and drinking a Guinness.