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Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence

Stephen 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.