Astronomy professor bringing star power to Modesto Junior College science night

05/28/2014 2:33 PM

05/29/2014 5:10 PM

Modesto Junior College will host a superstar in astronomy circles this fall as part of the lineup for the Modesto Area Partners in Science series.

“Dark Matter and the Runaway Universe” will be the Oct. 3 topic of Alex Filippenko, astronomy professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Filippenko is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, has produced five video courses with The Great Courses, co-wrote a textbook and appears in some 100 TV documentaries.

His scientific work has been documented in about 750 research papers. He shared the Gruber Cosmology Prize in 2007 and was on the teams whose leaders received the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for work on dark matter and the expanding universe. His specialty areas include supernovae, active galaxies, black holes and gamma-ray bursts, according to his UC Berkeley Web page.

Perhaps just as impressive are awards attesting to his ability to make such weighty topics relatable.

Voted Cal’s “Best Professor” a record nine times by students, he also holds the 2006 National Professor of the Year award from the Carnegie Foundation. He received the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.

In announcing the upcoming talk, Steve Murov of MAPS called Filippenko “one of the most prestigious speakers ever to grace the MJC campus.”

In other happenings, on Oct. 9, Susan Marie Frontczak, who appeared as Marie Curie two years ago, will give a presentation on Eleanor Roosevelt at the Gallo Center for the Arts. On Jan. 15, the Gallo will host mathemagician and Harvey Mudd College math professor Arthur Benjamin. Scheduled times and ticket prices will be announced.

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