Berkeleyan: A newspaper for faculty and staff at UC Berkeley


Berkeleyan HomeSearch BerkeleyanBerkeleyan ArchiveUCB NewsUCB Calendar

This Week's Stories:


Regular Features



Frank Shu Named University Professor

by Robert Sanders, Public Affairs
posted October 14, 1998

Berkeley astronomer Frank Shu has been promoted to one of the most exclusive clubs at the University of California, the rank of University Professor.

As one of only 19 University Professors in the nine-campus UC system, Shu will be expected to teach and conduct research at campuses other than Berkeley. In particular he is interested in teaching in the astronomy department at UC Santa Cruz and expanding his involvement there with the Center for Star Formation Studies, a research group funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and run jointly by UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz and NASA Ames.

The title of University Professor is reserved for scholars of international distinction who are also recognized and respected as exceptional teachers. It is a way to share their talents throughout the UC system for at least five years and no more than 10.

"This is a rare event in a faculty member's life, and the honor is most certainly well-deserved," said astronomy department chair Jonathan Arons. "Shu has made contributions in research, teaching and service that are at the top of the academic profession."

Shu, 55, is regarded as one of the world's leading theoretical astrophysicists and the leading theorist in star formation. He is former president of the American Astronomical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. In addition he is known as an excellent teacher. His notes from an introductory astronomy class were turned into an undergraduate text, "The Physical Universe," which has been described as the "Feynman Lectures" of astrophysics.

Among Shu's contributions have been major innovations in our understanding of spiral structure in galaxies and in Saturn's rings, the transfer of mass in binary star systems, the formation of stars and the origin of the solar system. In recent years he has looked at the geochemical composition of meteorites, in search of clues to the early history of the solar system.

Among his goals at the Center for Star Formation Studies is an increased emphasis on searching for evidence for biological phenomena in our own and other planetary systems.

"This is a wonderful opportunity for the university to take advantaage of Shu's intellectual and personal leadership at a time when the connection between astronomy, biology and geology is just opening up," Arons said.

Born in Kunming, China, Shu received his BS in physics from MIT and his PhD in astronomy from Harvard. He has been a member of the faculty since 1973, and served as chair of the astronomy department from 1984 until 1988.


 [ Back to top ]


UCB Home

This site is produced and maintained by the Office of Public Affairs, University of California, Berkeley.
Copyright 1998, The Regents of the University of California.
For comments concerning this web service please e-mail