Potted Biography: R. D. Joseph


Bob Joseph is an Astronomer in the Institute for Astronomy (IfA), UH Manoa. He has been at UH 22 years. Before coming to Hawaii he was Reader in Astrophysics at Imperial College, University of London, where he was on the faculty for almost 20 years. He served as Director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea for the years 1989-2000, and was recently awarded the NASA Public Service Medal ''for outstanding leadership while serving as Director." He was IfA Faculty Chair from 2002-2005. Asteroid 7159 has been named ''Bobjoseph" by the International Astronomical Union.


Joseph received his B.A. degree from Greenvillle College (IL), M.A. from Vanderbilt University (TN), and Ph.D in physics from Washington University (MO).


Joseph has published over 200 scientific papers, and there have been over 3,300 citations of his work by other astronomers in their publications.  His  research interests are in extragalactic astronomy. A major research interest over the past 25 years is the astrophysical effects of collisions between galaxies. One result of such collisions is the formation of a new generation of stars. He and his collaborators have shown that such violent bursts of star formation seem not to produce as many low-mass, solar-type stars, or as many very massive stars as are produced in the more quiescent star formation processes occurring in the solar neighborhood. Another consequence of collisions between spiral galaxies is that they can merge and coalesce into a single new object, and he and his collaborators have shown such mergers of spiral galaxies are producing elliptical galaxies.


Joseph was one of a group of a dozen European astronomers who first proposed the Infrared Space Observatory (ISO) as a space astronomy mission to the European Space Agency in 1979. ISO was launched in 1995 and was very successful. Joseph was a Co-Investigator on the ISOPHOT instrument, and the prototype of the ISOPHOT-S 2.5-12 Ám spectrometer was developed in his lab at Imperial College. Joseph was one of the proposers to the European Space Agency for the Far-Infrared and Submillimetre Telescope (FIRST). This mission has now been re-named Herschel, and was launched in May 2009.


Courses lectured at the University of Hawaii in recent years have included the general education survey of astronomy, the graduate course in cosmology, and a graduate seminar on starbursts in galaxies. Joseph is also a volunteer at the women's prison where he has given a year-long course on astronomy for the past seven years.  He and colleague Dr. Toni Cowie have developed a new upper division course, ''History of the Cosmos in Western Culture," which they have presented the past five years.


Joseph has had 15 graduate students complete Ph.D. degrees under his supervision. Most are in academic or research positions in the U.S. and the U.K.


Joseph is on the Board of the U.K. Infrared Telescope and on the editorial board of the journal Contemporary Physics. He has served on many national and international science committees. 


Music is one of Joseph's avocations. He sings baritone in the Honolulu Symphony Chorus and in the choir at Calvary-By-The-Sea Lutheran Church. Performances in recent years have included many of the great Requiems, the Mahler 2nd Symphony,  the Mendelssohn Elijah, the Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, the Mozart Mass in C, Orff's Carmina Burana, the Haydn Creation, the Rutter Gloria and Mass of the Children, Britten's Ceremony of Carols, and the Beethoven 9th Symphony.