Eric Chaisson

Eric Chaisson

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Eric J. Chaisson is an American astrophysicist and science educator
Science education
Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises...

 best known for his research, teaching, and writing on the interdisciplinary science of cosmic evolution. (Closely related subjects include epic of evolution, big history
Big History
Big History is a field of historical study that examines history on large scales across long time frames through a multidisciplinary approach, focusing on both the history of the non-human world and on major adaptations and alterations in the human experience...

, and astrobiology
Astrobiology
Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. This interdisciplinary field encompasses the search for habitable environments in our Solar System and habitable planets outside our Solar System, the search for evidence of prebiotic chemistry,...

). He is also noted for his original research on the interstellar clouds and emission nebulae of the Milky Way Galaxy, and for his leadership in improving science education
Science education
Science education is the field concerned with sharing science content and process with individuals not traditionally considered part of the scientific community. The target individuals may be children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education comprises...

 nationally and internationally. He is currently a staff member of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
The Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is one of the largest and most diverse astrophysical institutions in the world, where scientists carry out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education...

 and teaches natural science at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

.

Chaisson earned his PhD at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 in 1972 and has since held appointments at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
The Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics is one of the largest and most diverse astrophysical institutions in the world, where scientists carry out a broad program of research in astronomy, astrophysics, earth and space sciences, and science education...

, Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

, Space Telescope Science Institute
Space Telescope Science Institute
The Space Telescope Science Institute is the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope and for the James Webb Space Telescope...

, and most recently Tufts University
Tufts University
Tufts University is a private research university located in Medford/Somerville, near Boston, Massachusetts. It is organized into ten schools, including two undergraduate programs and eight graduate divisions, on four campuses in Massachusetts and on the eastern border of France...

, where he was for nearly 20 years director of the Wright Center for Science Education while holding research professorships in the department of physics and in the school of education. He is now back at the Harvard College Observatory
Harvard College Observatory
The Harvard College Observatory is an institution managing a complex of buildings and multiple instruments used for astronomical research by the Harvard University Department of Astronomy. It is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, and was founded in 1839...

 and also serves with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard, where he teaches an annual undergraduate course on the subject of cosmic evolution (cf., web site below).

Chaisson has published nearly 200 papers in the refereed journals and written a dozen books, several of which have won awards, such as the B.J. Bok Prize (Harvard) for astronomical discoveries, the Smith-Weld Prize (Harvard) for literary merit, and the Kistler Award (Foundation for the Future) for increasing understanding of subjects shaping the future of humanity. He has also won scholarly prizes from Phi Beta Kappa and the American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...

, a Certificate of Merit from NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 for work on the Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope
The Hubble Space Telescope is a space telescope that was carried into orbit by a Space Shuttle in 1990 and remains in operation. A 2.4 meter aperture telescope in low Earth orbit, Hubble's four main instruments observe in the near ultraviolet, visible, and near infrared...

, as well as fellowships from the Sloan Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic non-profit organization in the United States. It was established in 1934 by Alfred P. Sloan, Jr., then-President and Chief Executive Officer of General Motors.-Overview:...

 and the National Academy of Sciences
United States National Academy of Sciences
The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

.

Chaisson's major research interests are twofold: His scientific research addresses an interdisciplinary, thermodynamic study of physical, biological, and cultural phenomena, seeking to understand the origin and evolution of galaxies, star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s, planets, life
Life
Life is a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased , or else because they lack such functions and are classified as inanimate...

, and society, thus devising a unifying cosmic-evolutionary worldview of the Universe and our sense of place within it writ large.[Ref 1-5] His educational work engages master teachers and computer animators to create better methods, technological aids, and novel curricula to enthuse teachers, instruct students, and enhance scientific literacy
Scientific literacy
Scientific literacy encompasses written, numerical, and digital literacy as they pertain to understanding science, its methodology, observations, and theories.-Definition:...

of everyone from grade school to grad school.[Ref 6-9]

Biblographic link


External links