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Debra M. Elmegreen Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair and Department Chair

Dr. Elmegreen teaches introductory and advanced courses on astronomy. Her research interests include star formation, the structure of spiral and interacting galaxies, and galaxy evolution. She observes in optical, near-infrared, and radio wavelengths in the local and high redshift universe.

  • AB, Princeton University; AM, PhD, Harvard University
  • At Vassar since 1985


Research and Academic Interests

  • Star Formation
  • Galaxies
  • Galaxy Evolution

Departments and Programs


  • ASTR 220. Stellar Astrophysics

In the Media


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Photo: M. Zamani (IAU)
Photo: Walter Garschagen / Vassar College

Professor Elmegreen has been on the Vassar faculty since 1985, teaching astronomy at all levels. She received her undergraduate degree in astrophysics from Princeton University (the first woman to do so) and her MA and PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University. She was a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow (the first woman to hold this position) at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena.

Professor Elmegreen is President-elect of the International Astronomical Union, which includes 101 member nations and 13,500 members worldwide. She is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), which manages ground-based federal observatories (NOAO and Gemini) as well as the Hubble Space Telescope. She is Past President of the American Astronomical Society. She is Past Chair of the Astronomy Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Professor Elmegreen is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as the AAAS. She is a National Associate of the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. She was awarded the 2018 George van Biesbroeck prize of the American Astronomical Society for service to astronomy.