Name                                                  Robert David Joseph


Address for Communication         Institute for Astronomy

                                                            University of Hawaii

                                                            2680 Woodlawn Drive

                                                            Honolulu, HI  96822



Office Telephone                            (808) 956-8531


Telefax                                              (808) 988-3893




Web address                           


Education                                          B.A., 1961, Physics

                                                            Greenville College

                                                            Greenville, Illinois, USA


                                                            M.A., 1964, Physics

                                                            Vanderbilt University

                                                            Nashville, Tennessee, USA


                                                            Ph.D., 1971, Physics,

                                                            Washington University

                                                            St. Louis, Missouri, USA


Employment                                     1989-present:  Astronomer (with tenure)

                                                            Institute for Astronomy

                                                            University of Hawaii

                                                            Honolulu HI 96822


                                                            1973-1990:  Lecturer in Physics &

                                                            Reader in Astrophysics

                                                            Imperial College of Science & Technology

                                                            London SW7, England


                                                            1971-73:  Research Associate in Physics

                                                            Washington University

                                                            St. Louis, Missouri


                                                            1963-65:  Instructor in Physics

                                                            Greenville College

                                                            Greenville, Illinois


I. Professional Experience


1 Teaching


University of Hawaii


I regularly teach one of the sections of Astronomy 110, the general education survey course, to ~70 students. 


In 2002 I gave the Astronomy 627 graduate course in "Cosmology."


My colleague Dr. Toni Cowie, and I are developing a new upper division undergraduate course called "The Cosmos in Western Culture." It will be offered for the first time in the Spring 2007 term.


In the 1999-2000 academic year I gave a graduate seminar on "Starbursts in Galaxies."


Imperial College


I gave the final-year undergraduate course in astrophysics over several years.  This was the most popular of the optional courses in the department (the last year I gave this course (spring '89) it was elected by 167 of the 181 students in that year's class).  In the previous three years I gave the first-year course in atomic and nuclear physics (~200 students).  This course was rated "by far the most popular physics course" in the student course evaluation.  I also gave weekly tutorials to either first- or second-year physics students at Imperial every year.


Supervision of Graduate Students


One of the greatest rewards of my academic career has been working with graduate students, and attempting to give them a strong start on their professional careers.


K. S. Sugden, Ph.D., 1978.

Thesis:  "Far-Infrared Astronomy with a Balloon Telescope." 

He is a free-lance writer.


M. F. Kessler, Ph.D., 1981.

Thesis:  "A Cryogenically-Cooled Fabry-Perot Interferometer for Balloon Infrared Astronomy." 

He was the ESA Project Scientist for the Infrared Space Observatory, and is now Head of Science Operations at ESA.


D. L. Rosen, Ph.D., 1981.

Thesis:  "A Polarimeter for Infrared Astronomy." 

He is a statistician in Lancashire, U.K.


G. S. Wright, M.Phil., 1982, Ph.D., 1986.

M. Phil. Thesis:  "Design Study for a Large Balloon-Borne Far-Infrared Telescope."

Ph.D. Thesis:  "Infrared Studies on Interacting Galaxies." 

She is on the staff of the U.K. Astronomy Technology Centre and Principal Investigator for the Mid-Infrared Instrument for the James Webb Space Telescope.


S. A. Morris, Ph.D., 1984.

Thesis:  "Infrared Photometry of Interacting Galaxies." 

He works for a software consultancy firm.


S. T. Chase, Ph.D., 1985.

Thesis:  "A Millimetre Wavelength Search for the Sunyaev-Zeldovich Effect." 

He has set up his own high-technology company doing cryogenic instrumentation.


C. A. Collins, Ph.D., 1986.

Thesis:  "Infrared Studies of Galaxy Formation and the Hubble Flow." 

He has a Chair in the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.


P. A. James, Ph.D., 1988.

Thesis:  "Observational Studies of the Galaxy Peculiar Velocity Field."

He is a Senior Lecturer in the Astrophysics Research Institute at Liverpool John Moores University, U.K.


A. H. Prestwich, Ph.D., 1989.

Thesis: "Extragalactic Near-Infrared Spectroscopy."

She holds a staff appointment in the Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge MA.


R. Doyon, Ph.D., 1990.

Thesis: "Infrared Spectroscopy of Interacting and Merging Galaxies."

He has an appointment at the University of Montreal, Canada.


D. L. Clements, Ph.D., 1991.

Thesis: "Millimetre and Submillimetre Observations in Cosmology."

He is a research fellow at Imperial College, U.K.


A. J. Connolly, Ph.D., 1993

Thesis: "The Large-Scale Galaxy Peculiar Velocity Field."

He holds a tenure-stream appointment at the University of Pittsburgh.


J. D. Goldader, Ph.D. 1995, University of Hawaii

Thesis: Near-Infrared Spectroscopy of Luminous Infrared Galaxies.

He holds an appointment at the University of Pennsylvania.


George J. Bendo, Ph.D. 2002, University of Hawaii

Thesis: The ISO Atlas of Bright Spiral Galaxies.

He has a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Arizona


Barry Rothberg, Ph.D. 2004, University of Hawaii

Thesis: "The Formation of Elliptical Galaxies from the Mergers of Spirals."

He has a post-doctoral appointment at the Space Telescope Science Institute


2 Service


Service on U.S.A. and U.K. Science Committees (last decade only)


Editorial Board member for the journal Contemporary Physics, 1997-present.

SOFIA Science Council, 1997-2005.

Spitzer Space Telescope Cycle 1 proposal review committee, 2004.

Chairman, Gemini Science Committee, 2001-2003.

Hubble Space Telescope Extragalactic Review Panel for Cycle 11, 2001.

Chairman, Independent Review Committee for AIRES (a Facility Instrument under

development for SOFIA), June 2001.

National Optical Astronomy Observatories Users Committee, 1999 & 2000,

Chairman in 2000.

Review Committee for SOFIA scientific instruments, 1997.

Gemini Science Committee, 1997-2001.

U.S. Gemini Science Advisory Committee, 1995-2001.

Observatories Visiting Committee for the U.S. National Optical Astronomy

            Observatories, 1994-1998.

NASA Review Panel for Advanced Technology Research Program (Infrared and

Submillimeter Section), 1996.

NASA Kuiper Airborne Observatory Review Panel, 1991- 1994.

            Chairman of Review Panel, 1993.

Hubble Space Telescope Extragalactic Review Panel for Cycle 3, 1992.

U.S. National Academy of Sciences Infrared Panel for the Decade Review of

Astronomy and Astrophysics ("Bahcall Committee"), 1989-1990.

Chairman, IRTF Time Allocation Committee, 1989-2000.

Councillor, Royal Astronomical Society, 1988-1990.


Service on IfA Committees


        IfA Faculty Chair, 2002-2005.

        IfA Executive Committee 1990-2000, 2003-2005.

        IfA Faculty Review Committee, 2001-2003.

        IfA Time Allocation Committee, 2000-2003.

        Chair, IfA Colloquium Committee, 2000-2002.

        Chair of the IfA Personnel Subcommittee in 1999.

        Chair of IfA Library Advisory Committee, 2000-2003.

        IfA Qualifying Exam Committee, 2000-2003, Chair, 2000.

        IRTF Division Chief 1990-2000.


Service on University of Hawaii Committees


        UH Manoa Tenure and Promotion Review Panel, 2002.

        UH Manoa Faculty Senate 1999-2001.  In both years I was on the Senate's Faculty Service Committee.

        UH Manoa Faculty Ambassadors program, 1999-2000.

        UH Manoa Tenure and Promotion Review Panel, 1998.

        Chair, UH Promotion Review Panel for a promotion appeal case, July 1998.


3 Administration and Management


I am presently IfA Faculty Chair. 


I was Division Chief (i.e. Director) of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) from 1989-2000 (with a sabbatical in 1996). The IRTF is managed for NASA under a five-year contract to the University of Hawaii.  About 30 people (24 FTE) are employed in the IRTF Division in various activities.  The annual operating budget the last year I was Director was $3.2 million.


4 Contract and Grant Funding


I was Principal Investigator on a grant for $433k from NASA for analysis of ISO data.


I wrote the University of Hawaii proposal to NASA for a new five-year contract to operate and manage the IRTF in 1995.  This was a fully competitive procurement, which the University of Hawaii won. The contract was for $14.9 million over the five years 1996-2000.


During the time I was IRTF Director  I and my staff proposed and were awarded three major IRTF upgrade projects.  The first, was carried out in 1992, at a cost of ~$500k.  The Phase II upgrade (in which I made a public presentation at NASA Headquarters in competition with similar presentations from all the NASA centers), was approved, at a cost of ~$2million.  A third upgrade, to the dome drive and braking system, was approved at a cost of $900k.  The funds for these upgrades, totaling $3.4 million, were administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,, and so are not included in the summary table below.


I was a Co-Investigator in two major instrumentation grants for the IRTF.  The first was from NASA for developing and installing a "tip-tilt" active optics system on the IRTF.  It was awarded in 1992 for a total cost of ~$1.2 million.  The second was a proposal to NSF for development of SpeX, a medium resolution (R = 1,700) spectrometer for the IRTF.  This was awarded by NSF in July 94 for $1.1 million.


Total  Grant/Contract support as P.I. or Co-I. at the University of Hawaii.


Grant/Contract                                                                                                            $(k)


NASA Spitzer Space Telescope grant (2005)                                                            35

NASA ISO supplement (1998)                                                                                  164

NASA IRTF Contract (1996)                                                                                 14,916

NSF IRTF visitor support grant (1996)                                                                     341

NASA ISO (1995)                                                                                                          269

NSF grant to build SpeX for the IRTF (1994)                                                        1,100

IRTF Tip-Tilt project (NASA) (1992)                                                                      1,200


Total                                                                                                                      $17,990k


When I left Imperial College in 1989 I was holding grants totaling about 490k.  These grants supported design and development of the  prototype for the ISO instrument PHT-S, a 2.5 - 12 m spectrometer which flew very successfully on ISO, and for establishment of a STARLINK node at Imperial College, among other things.  During my tenure at Imperial College I was awarded, as Principal Investigator, grants totaling more than 950k.


6) Membership in Professional Societies


Fellow, Royal Astronomical Society

            Member of Council, Royal Astronomical Society, 1988-1990

Member, American Astronomical Society

Member, International Astronomical Union




1)  Extragalactic astronomy


The objectives of my research program in extragalactic astronomy are chiefly to elucidate the astrophysical consequences of interactions and mergers between galaxies.  My collaborators and I were the first to show that interactions trigger bursts of star formation, and one of the prominent themes of my present research program is to explore the starburst phenomenon, and other consequences of interactions and mergers between galaxies.


a)  Interacting Galaxies


One of the major discoveries of infrared astronomy is that many (perhaps most) spiral galaxies may experience massive and rapid bursts of star formation.  I and my collaborators were the first to demonstrate, in a series of papers that the starburst phenomenon can be triggered by interactions between galaxies.  We identified the celebrated merger NGC6240 as an extremely luminous infrared galaxy in the IRAS survey.  We were also the first to show that some of the most luminous "infrared" galaxies, such as those discovered in the IRAS infrared sky survey, with luminosities rivaling those of quasars and Seyfert galaxies, are the products of mergers between spiral galaxies.  We argued more generally that such mergers induce starbursts of exceptional luminosity.  These ideas, to which there was initially considerable resistance, have now become an accepted paradigm.


I have also been intrigued by the fundamental question of the formation of elliptical galaxies.  One possible consequence of the merging of spiral galaxies is the formation of elliptical galaxies, via "violent relaxation" of the constituent stars.  I and my collaborators have investigated this possibility for a number of the powerful infrared galaxies for which there is evidence they are mergers.  We have shown that some follow the classical de Vaucouleurs' r1/4" surface brightness profile exhibited by elliptical galaxies, in the infrared.  More recently we showed that for Arp220 and NGC6240 the central velocity dispersions (based on infrared spectroscopy) and densities are located in a classical "cooling diagram" in the region where ellipticals are located.  Our infrared studies thus suggest that these powerful infrared merging galaxies genuinely do seem to be turning into ellipticals.


In recent years, my study of interacting galaxies has largely shifted to infrared spectroscopic studies, discussed in (1b) below.


b)  Extragalactic infrared spectroscopy


This is a research technique, rather than a scientific subject, but I have been one of the pioneers of this field, which has great potential.  I and my collaborators have been working to develop diagnostic tools using infrared spectroscopy for understanding a variety of phenomena in extragalactic astronomy.  We were the first to discover and to call attention to powerful emission from molecular hydrogen in interacting and merging galaxies.  We have developed and/or applied several diagnostic tools for investigating the stellar populations in starburst galaxies, using spectral features due to Brackett gamma, CO, HeI, and the ratio of the mass to the infrared luminosity.  Among the most interesting result is the evidence we have adduced that the star formation process in these "violent" star formation events is biased against the formation of stars of less than a few solar masses, and the upper mass cutoff to the initial mass function is typically well below 100 Mo.


Most recently we (collaborators: Goldader, Doyon & Sanders) defined a complete sample of the most luminous galaxies (luminosities > 2 x 1011 Lo) in the IRAS-selected Bright Galaxy Sample, and obtained infrared spectroscopy across the entire K (2 m) atmospheric window.  This was the first time such a large and comprehensive spectroscopic database was been obtained for a statistically complete sample of infrared galaxies.  The major aims were to use the diagnostics mentioned above to reach statistically significant conclusions about the stellar populations resulting from the starbursts, to discriminate between starbursts and buried AGNs as the underlying energy sources, and to understand the astrophysics of the excitation of powerful H2 emission in these objects.  This study further underscored the conclusion that starbursts produce stellar populations deficient in high-mass stars and is biased also against formation of stars of a solar mass or less.  One of the noteworthy results which has emerged from spectroscopy of the "ultraluminous" subsample (luminosities > 1012 Lo) is that no putative underlying broad-line AGN have been revealed beside the two (out of a sample of 15) which were already known from optical spectroscopy.  If these objects are powered by dust-embedded AGN and are the origin of quasars, as is the popular opinion in some quarters, then infrared spectroscopy, with ten times less extinction, might have been expected to reveal several additional broad-line AGN.  That none have emerged in our infrared spectroscopy must make this popular hypothesis somewhat more questionable.


2)  Observational Cosmology


A few years ago I decided that infrared observations had a great deal of unrealized potential for a variety of cosmological studies, and I began to develop several programs of infrared observations to investigate the formation of galaxies and large-scale structure in the Universe.


a)  The galaxy peculiar velocity field


My first excursion into this subject was an infrared re-study of the tantalizing and controversial "Rubin-Ford Effect."  Our initial infrared photometry of the Rubin-Ford galaxy sample confirmed and stengthened the original Rubin-Ford result, which we re-interpreted in a highly-cited paper in terms of a large-scale streaming motion which would have excluded the popular "cold dark matter" model.  We further showed that a sample of first-ranked cluster ellipticals provided confirmatory evidence for such streaming.  (An identical approach using new data and exhaustive analysis has been published by Lauer & Postman, who get a very similar result.)  However, when we did further analysis of systematic effects in the way Rubin and co-workers selected this galaxy sample, we showed that the Rubin-Ford result was entirely attributable to selection effects in the Rubin-Ford galaxy sample, thus laying to rest a controversial result which had been discussed in the literature for nearly 20 years.


b)  Infrared searches for primeval galaxies


Detection of primeval galaxies at the epoch of galaxy formation is one of the outstanding problems of observational cosmology.  For redshifts of formation 5, primeval galaxies will be infrared objects.  We first attempted a deep infrared survey to search for primeval galaxies before the advent of infrared detector arrays.  This search gave only upper limits, but constrained various models of primeval galaxies by up to an order of magnitude over previous optical searches, for formation redshifts of 5 to 10.


Encouraged by several detections of strong Lyman alpha from high redshift galaxies, and by evidence that some of these systems have an evolved stellar population, we (Parkes, Collins & Joseph) have since carried out a deep infrared search for redshifted Lyman a in the J atmospheric window, covering redshifts ~7 to 9, using several narrow-band filters with IRCAM on UKIRT.  Since the Lyman a line is expected to be narrow, it will be much stronger than the continuum.  Thus, primeval galaxies which would not have been detected in the broad-band infrared searches conducted to date could be detected in this narrow-band search.  Another signature of a genuine primeval galaxy would be appearance in one filter but not in the others.  Pitching the filter passbands between atmospheric OH emission lines reduced the background significantly and enabled us to achieve more detection sensitivity.  Unfortunately, this search, like all others so far, has given only upper limits.  Our results, combined with those of previous searches, indicate that if Lyman a  emission from primeval galaxies does not suffer appreciable extinction, then such putative primeval galaxies could not have had star formation rates much larger than those of present-day spirals.


3)  Planetary Astronomy


Although the solar system had not been a principal scientific interest of mine before I came to Hawaii to become the IRTF Division Chief, I thought it would be interesting to begin a planetary observing program, since the IRTF is also a planetary telescope NASA Solar System Exploration Division, and 50% of the observing time is reserved for the solar system.  I initiated a collaboration with Steve Miller & Jonathan Tennyson (in the University College London theoretical molecular physics group) to use the H3+ molecular ion, for which they had done the fundamental quantum mechanical calculations of energy levels, to study the aurorae on Jupiter.  This has turned out to be a most fruitful collaboration.  One of the major results of our program has been the evidence that the aurorae on Jupiter are not powered by charged particles originating in the Io plasma torus, as conventional wisdom assumed, but instead the aurorae are powered by the solar wind itself.  Another result is that cooling via the H3+ ion can provide a significant and hitherto neglected contribution to the cooling of the Jovian ionosphere. 


4)  Infrared Space Astronomy


When I was at Imperial College, I was one of the dozen or so proposers for two space astronomy missions to the European Space Agency.  Both these missions, ISO and FIRST, were selected by ESA as major flight missions.  ISO was launched in November 95 and performed superbly.  FIRST is the fourth cornerstone mission in ESAs "Horizon 2000" flight program.  It has been re-named Herschel and is expected to be launched ca. 2007.



a) Infrared Space Observatory (ISO)


I was one of the group of European astronomers who first proposed ISO as a new European Space Agency mission, in 1979.  I worked as an invited ESA scientific consultant on the mission, on the Assessment Study, a pre-Phase A Study, and on the Instruments and Science Team for the Phase A Study itself.  This work culminated in the selection of ISO in 1983 to be the next major ESA space astronomy mission.


Since completion of the ISO Phase-A study I was an ISO Co-Investigator in the consortium providing one of the focal plane instruments, the photo-polarimeter (ISOPHOT).  At Imperial College we designed and built a prototype model of ISOPHOT-S, two near-infrared spectrometers, spectral range 2.5 - 12 m, which were one of the four ISOPHOT sub-units.  The Qualification Model, Flight Model and Flight Spare were built to this design by CASA, a Spanish aerospace company, under the supervision of our collaborators at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias.  The IAC group tested and calibrated these models, and delivered them to the ISOPHOT prime contractor, Dornier Systems. 


I also proposed to our Consortium use of the ISOPHOT long wavelength camera (wavelength ~ 200 m) in a Serendipity Mode for the ISO mission, to supplement the IRAS survey.  I produced the detailed scientific case for the 200 m serendipity mode which was submitted as part of the Serendipity Mode proposal to the ESA Science Team.  This was eventually endorsed by the ESA science team and is an operational mode of ISOPHOT.  The Serendipity Mode has resulted in several papers, but I was not involved in this aspect of ISO after moving to Hawaii in 1989.


b)  Far-Infrared and Submillimetre Telescope (FIRST)


In 1982 a group of us realized that an 8-m deployable telescope, with associated instrumentation for sub-millimeter spectroscopy, was now technically feasible and scientifically very promising, and we submitted a proposal for such a mission to ESA.  In competition with about 12 such proposed astronomy missions, FIRST was one of two selected for Assessment Studies by the Astronomy Working Group.  I was a member of the ESA "Core" Study team, and after the Study report was presented, FIRST was approved for further technical study.  FIRST was adopted as one of the four "cornerstone" mission in the ESA science program "Horizon 2000."  I was invited by ESA to continue as a member of the study team, but in view of my responsibilities on the ISO instrument project, which were becoming significant, I felt unable to do justice to both FIRST and ISO, and so I resigned from the FIRST study team in 1985.  The telescope is now reduced in size and is not deployable, but the mission is the fourth "Cornerstone" in ESA's Horizon 2000 flight program, and has an expected launch date ca. 2005.