Urry Named Chair of Physics at Yale

C. Megan Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy Yale President Richard C. Levin has announced that C. Megan Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, will serve as Chair of the Department of Physics for a term of three years, effective July 1, 2007.
C. Megan Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Yale President Richard C. Levin has announced that C. Megan Urry, Israel Munson Professor of Physics and Astronomy, will serve as Chair of the Department of Physics for a term of three years, effective July 1, 2007.

Urry, the first woman chair in physics at Yale, has earned renown both for her research on super-massive black holes and for her efforts to expand the options for and increase the number of women and minorities in the physical sciences.

“Meg Urry embodies the best in research, in teaching and in championing the value and wonder of the physical sciences,” Levin said. “I am most grateful to her for taking on this important responsibility.”

Since Urry arrived at Yale in 2001, she has developed two large collaborative research projects with Chilean astronomers and designed new courses to introduce undergraduates to the physical sciences. She has also been instrumental in encouraging Yale students through the Women Faculty Forum mentoring program, and in introducing science to young people in the New Haven area through her participation in the Science Saturdays program.

“Her ability to inspire and work with students and administration on all levels has already brought an expanded awareness and appreciation of sciences to our Yale community,” said Provost Andrew Hamilton.

Urry’s scientific research concerns active galaxies – i.e., galaxies with unusually luminous cores powered by very massive black holes. Her group has carried out extensive observations of these objects in order to understand their energetics, structure and evolution. Her current interests include the mass function of black holes and the co-evolution of active and normal galaxies.

After receiving a B.S. in physics and mathematics at Tufts University, she earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in physics and astronomy from The Johns Hopkins University, the latter for X-ray and ultraviolet studies done at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she moved to the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), which runs the Hubble Telescope for NASA. There, she became a tenured member of the senior scientific staff and headed the STScI Science Program Selection Office, which reviews proposals for using the Hubble.

As part of her work to promote diversity in the physical sciences, Urry organized national meetings on women in astronomy in 1992 and 2003; led the U.S. delegation to the first international meeting on Women in Physics in Paris in 2002; chaired the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy for the American Astronomical Society; and served on the Committee on the Status of Women in Physics of the American Physiologic Society. She is also a member of the Yale Women Faculty Forum, and was elected a Fellow of American Women in Science in 2006.

Principal investigator on over 60 approved proposals for space observations, Urry has authored 140 publications in refereed journals and 29 book chapters and invited reviews. She won the Annie Jump Cannon award of the American Astronomical Society in 1990 and was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1998. She is a member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academy of Science’s National Research Council (NRC) and the American Astronomical Society’s Committee on Public Policy, and a recent member of the NRC Space Studies Board and the NASA Space Science Advisory Committee. She co-chairs the NRC’s Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics and has advised NASA on Hubble, Chandra, Spitzer, RXTE, ASCA, and other space observatories.

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Media Contact

Janet Rettig Emanuel: janet.emanuel@yale.edu, 203-432-2157