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Robert Gehrz

Professor (Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics)

SHEPLAB 533 (office), 624-7806
SHEPLAB 544 (lab), 626-2067
gehrz @ • vitae


PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY, 1985-; DIRECTOR, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA OBSERVATORIES, 1989-; Interim Chair, Department of Astronomy, 2005-2006; CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF ASTRONOMY, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, 2006-2011; FOUNDING DIRECTOR, MINNESOTA INSTITUTE FOR ASTROPHYSICS, 2011-2014; Fellow, Explorers Club, 1979; Fellow, AAAS, 1995; President, American Astronomical Society, 1998-2000; Fellow, APS, 2004; NASA Group Achievement Award, 2004.

Principal, SIRTF In-Orbit Checkout Focus Integrated Products Team, 2000-; NAS Committee on Organization and Management of Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics, 2001; Chair, NSF/NASA/DOE Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, 2002-2005; JWST Product Integrity Team, 2002-; JWST Science Assessment Team 2005; Large Synoptic Survey Telescope Site Selection Committee, 2005-2006; NASA SOFIA Science

About My Work

I am an observational/experimental infrared astromomer specializing in instrument development, telescope construction, telescope control and data acquisition systems. My observational programs include studies of comets, novae, supernovae, variable stars, and objects of opportunity.


Robert D. Gehrz was born in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in St. Paul, MN where he graduated from Central High School in 1963. He received a BA in Physics from the University of Minnesota in 1967 and a PhD in Physics from the University of Minnesota in 1971. From 1972 until 1985, Gehrz was on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Wyoming where, in collaboration with John A. Hackwell, he built the Wyoming Infrared Observatory Wyoming Infrared Observatory. The 2.34-meter Wyoming Infrared Telescope, funded jointly by the State of Wyoming and The National Science Foundation, was the largest IR telescope in the world at the time of its completion in 1977. Since 1985, Gehrz has been a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Observatories at the University of Minnesota. He was Chairman of the Department from 2005 until 2011, and was appointed Founding Director of the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics from June, 2011 through June 2014. He is a frequent guest observer at ground based and space based observatories world-wide. In addition to conducting an extensive research effort in ground based infrared astronomical observations and instrumentation development, Gehrz is a member of the Science Working Group SWG for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope with Facility Scientist responsibilities for the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly (CTA). His space infrared astronomy research has included programs conducted with the (International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), the European Space Agency (ESA) Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the new Chandra X-ray Observatory. He was elected a Fellow of the Explorers Club in 1979, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1995 and a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2004. He was Chairman and member of the Board of the International Gemini Project during 1996- 1999 and was President of the American Astronomical Society during 1998-2000. During 2001, he served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on the Organization and Management of Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics (COMRAA). Gehrz is a past chair and member of the NSF/NASA Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC). He currently serves as a member of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Product Integrity Team (PIT) that reviews the optical telescope assembly and is Chair of the NASA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Users Group (SUG). Gehrz is the University of Minnesota representative to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) Council of Institutions.

Selected Publications

W. D. Vacca, R. T. Hamilton, M. Savage, S. Shenoy, E. E. Becklin, I. S. McLean, Ian S., S. E. Logsdon, R. D. Gehrz, J. Spyromilio, P. Garnavich, G. H. Marion, and O. D. Fox, Observations of Type Ia Supernova 2014J with FLITECAM/SOFIA, 2015, ApJ, in press, eprint arXiv:1503.01229

M. L. Boyer, K. B. W. McQuinn, P. Barmby, A. Z. Bonanos, R. D. Gehrz, K. D. Gordon, M. A. T. Groenewegen, E. Lagadec, D. Lennon, M. Marengo, I. McDonald, M. Meixner, E. Skillman, G. C. Sloan, G. Sonneborn, J. Th. van Loon, and Albert Zijlstra, Dust in Nearby Galaxies With Spitzer (DUSTiNGS): An Infrared Census of The Local Group, II. Discovery of Extreme AGB Stars, 2015, ApJ, 800, 51

M. L. Boyer, M. L., K. McQuinn, P. Barmby, A. Z. Bonanos, R. D. Gehrz, K. D. Gordon, M. A. T. Groenewegen, E. Lagadec, D. Lennon, M. Marengo, M. Meixner, E. Skillman, G. C. Sloan, G. Sonneborn, J. Th. van Loon, and Albert Zijlstra, Dust in Nearby Galaxies With Spitzer (DUSTiNGS ): An Infrared Census of The Local Group, I. Overview, 2015, ApJS, 216, 10

D. H. Wooden, J. M. De Buizer, M. S. Kelley, C. E. Woodward, D. E. Harker, W. T. Reach, M. L. Sitko, R. W. Russell, R. D. Gehrz, I. de Pater, and L. Kolokolova, Comet C/2012 S1 (ISON): Observations of the Dust Grains from SOFIA and of the Atomic Gas from NSO Dunn and McMath-Pierce Solar Telescopes (Invited), 2014, LPI, 45, 2906

A. Evans, R. D., Gehrz, R.D., C. E. Woodward, and L. A.Helton, A WISE view of novae - I. The data, 2014, MNRAS, 444, 1683

L. A. Helton, A. Evans, C. E. Woodward, and R. D. Gehrz, “Atypical dust species in the ejecta of classical novae”, “PAHs and the Universe: A Symposium to Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the PAH Hypothesis,” eds. C. Joblin and A. G. G. M. Tielens, ESA Publications Series, 46, 407-412 (2011)

I. McDonald1, J. Th. van Loon, G. C. Sloan, A. K. Dupree, A. A. Zijlstra, M. L. Boyer, R. D. Gehrz, A. Evans, C. E. Woodward, and C. I. Johnson, “Spitzer Spectra of Evolved Stars in  Centauri and their Low-metallicity Dust Production”, MNRAS, 417, 20 (2011)

N. Smith, R. D. Gehrz, R. Campbell, and M. Kassis, “Episodic Mass Loss in Binary Evolution to the Wolf-Rayet Phase: Keck and HST Proper Motions of the Nebula Around RY Scuti”, MNRAS, 418, 1959 (2011)

R. O. Pepin, R. Palma, R. D. Gehrz, and S. G. Starrfield, “Presolar Grains from Novae: Evidence from Neon and Helium Isotopes in Comet Dust Collections”, ApJ, 742, 86 (2011)

A. Evans, A., J. Th. Van Loon, C. E.Woodward, R. D. Gehrz, L. A. Helton, G. C. Clayton, M. T. Rushton, S. P. S. Eyres, J. Krautter, S. Starrfield, and R. M. Wagner, “Solid-phase C60 in the peculiar binary XX Oph?”, MNRAS, 421,L92 (2012)

E. T. Young, T. L. Herter, J. M. de Buizer, E. E. Becklin, R. D. Gehrz, P. M. Harvey, L. A. Helton, A. Krabbe, P. M. Marcum, M. Morris, W. Reach, T. L. Roellig, G. H. L. Sandell, R. Sankrit, R. Y, Shuping, P. Temi, W. D. Vacca, and H. Zinnecker, “Early Science with SOFIA, the Stratosphereic Observatory for Infrared Astronomy”, ApJ, 749, L17 (2012)

A. Evans, R. D. Gehrz, L. A. Helton, S. Starrfield, M. F. Bode, J. P. Osborne, D. P. K. Banerjee, J.-U. Ness, F. M. Walter, C. E. Woodward, E. Kuulkers, S. P. S. Eyres, J. M. Oliveira, N. M. Ashok, J. Krautter, T. J. O’Brien, K. Page, and M. T. Rushton, “Infrared observations of the recurrent nova T Pyxidis: ancient dust basks in the warm glow of the 2011 outburst”, MNRAS, 424, L69 (2012)

T. Temim, E. Dwek, G. Sonneborn, R. G. Arendt, R. D. Gehrz, P. Slane, and T. L. Roellig, “Properties and Spatial Distribution of Dust Emission in the Crab Nebula”, ApJ, 753, 72 (2012)

L. A, Helton, R. D. Gehrz, C. E.Woodward, R. M. Wagner, W. D. Vacca , A. Evans, J. Krautter, G. J. Schwarz, D. S. Shenoy, and S. Starrfield, “Elemental Abundances in the Ejecta of Old Classical Novae from Late-Epoch Spitzer Spectra, ApJ, 755, 37 (2012)

R. D. Gehrz, E. E. Becklin, and T. L. Roellig, “Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA)”, Proceedings of the SPIE, 8511, 85110B-1 (2012)

A. Evans and R. D. Gehrz, “Infrared Emission from Novae”, Bull. Astr. Soc. India, 40, 213 (2012)


B.A., Physics, University of Minnesota, 1967.
Ph.D. Physics, University of Minnesota, 1971.