Biography for Robert Gehrz

Professor of Physics and Astronomy

Director, University of Minnesota Observatories

Professional Biography

Robert D. Gehrz was born in Evanston, Illinois and grew up in St. Paul, MN where he graduated from Central High School in 1963. He received a BA in Physics from the University of Minnesota in 1967 and a PhD in Physics from the University of Minnesota in 1971. From 1972 until 1985, Gehrz was on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Wyoming where, in collaboration with John A. Hackwell, he built the Wyoming Infrared Observatory. The 2.34-meter Wyoming Infrared Telescope, funded jointly by the State of Wyoming and The National Science Foundation, was the largest IR telescope in the world at the time of its completion in 1977. Since 1985, Gehrz has been a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Director of the Observatories at the University of Minnesota. He was Chairman of the Department from 2005 until 2011, and was appointed Founding Director of the Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics from June, 2011 through June 2014. He is a frequent guest observer at ground based and space based observatories world-wide. In addition to conducting an extensive research effort in ground based infrared astronomical observations and instrumentation development, Gehrz is a member of the Science Working Group SWG for NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope with Facility Scientist responsibilities for the Cryogenic Telescope Assembly (CTA). His space infrared astronomy research has included programs conducted with the (International Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE), the Kuiper Airborne Observatory (KAO), the European Space Agency (ESA) Infrared Space Observatory (ISO), Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the new Chandra X-ray Observatory. He was elected a Fellow of the Explorers Club in 1979, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1995 and a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2004. He was Chairman and member of the Board of the International Gemini Project during 1996–1999 and was President of the American Astronomical Society during 1998–2000. During 2001, he served as a member of the National Research Council Committee on the Organization and Management of Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics (COMRAA). Gehrz is a past chair and member of the NSF/NASA Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC). He currently serves as a member of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Product Integrity Team (PIT) that reviews the optical telescope assembly and is Chair of the NASA Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Users Group (SUG). Gehrz is the University of Minnesota representative to the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) Council of Institutions.

Personal Biography

Gehrz and his wife Susan, a graduate of the University of Minnesota and the former Mayor of Falcon Heights, MN, have two children, both graduates of the University of Minnesota. Alexander, lives in Seattle, WA where he is Director of Housekeeping at the Watertown Hotel by day and a rock musician in the band Enkrya by night. Andrea, who lives in Portland, OR is an American Sign Language interpreter and the mother of granddaughter Angelene. In their spare time, Gehrz and his wife cross country ski, paddle Minnesota's waterways in their Dagger kayaks, bicycle, renovate their old house, work on their N-gauge train layout, and travel. Gehrz plays left wing for the Minneapolis Buccaneers, an amateur ice hockey team in the Twin Cities Adult Hockey Association. The Bucs won the 2007 National Championship in their division at the USAHockey National Amateur Championship Tournament in Las Vegas, NV. In October 2007, he played left wing for the Olde Crabs Hockey Club at the National Senior Olympic Hockey Championships in Blaine, MN.