Lawrence is an assistant professor of physics
and astronomy at Hofstra
University in New York. He received his B.A.
in physics from the University of Chicago and then
a M.S. and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University
of Michigan. His first postdoctoral appointment
came in 1995 as a resident astronomer at the Observatorio
Astronómico Nacional of the Universidad Nacional
Autónoma de México in Baja California,
Mexico. This was followed by a year as a visiting
professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio
and then three years as a postdoctoral research
scientist at Columbia University. He became a professor
at Hofstra in January of 2001.
Lawrence uses both mountaintop and satellite observatories
to study supernovae, supernova remnants and interstellar
dust at ultraviolet, visible and infrared wavelengths.
Cassiopeia A has been a favorite target since his
graduate studies. For his doctoral research project,
he used innovative observing techniques to generate
three-dimensional images of the remnant and co-discovered
intriguing ring-like structures seen in its optical
filaments. His recent research also focuses on Supernova
1987A, the nearest and brightest supernova in
nearly 400 years. He is using Hubble and Chilean
telescopes to study the never-before-seen transition
from supernova explosion to supernova remnant, as
well as create three-dimensional maps of the interstellar
medium as Supernova 1987A illuminates nearby dust
clouds with its "light echoes."
He remembers the excitement that swept the astronomy
and physics communities when Supernova 1987A exploded
during his junior year as an undergraduate. The
intense activity triggered by this once-in-a-lifetime
supernova was a large factor in his decision to
study astronomy, rather than physics, in graduate
school. He is particularly pleased that his career
has come full circle, allowing him to study the
most powerful explosions in the Universe with the
Hubble Space Telescope, one of astronomy's most
powerful research tools.