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. She is an elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Astronomical Society, and winner of the AAS George van Biesbroeck Prize for service to astronomy. She is President-elect of the International Astronomical Union.
- AB, Princeton University; AM, PhD, Harvard University
- At Vassar since 1985
Research and Academic Interests
Departments and Programs
- ASTR 220. Stellar Astrophysics
In the Media
Fitting Tribute: Vera C. Rubin Observatory Begins Scanning the Skies in 2022
A Treasure Trove of Ancient Massive Galaxies
A new 3D map of the Milky Way flaunts our galaxy’s warped shape
Professor of Astronomy Debra Elmegreen discusses new findings about the spiral structure of the Milky Way and its warped disk.
In the Footsteps of Maria Mitchell
Debra Elmegreen, Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair, has been elected to the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, joining such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin, Martin Luther King Jr.—and Maria Mitchell herself.
US astronomers plot wish list for the next decade
Debra Elmegreen, Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair and Department Chair, was quoted in a Nature story about the priorities for astronomers in the next 10 years.
Elmegreen to Lead Worldwide Astronomy Group
Debra M. Elmegreen Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, has been elected by her peers to lead the largest international organization of astronomers in the world.
Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium Approved as New Member of AURA
A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away…
Debra Elmegreen, Maria Mitchell Professor of Astronomy at Vassar, and her husband Bruce Elmegreen, IBM astronomer, recently announced the discovery of “Little Blue Dots,” a kind of galaxy never seen before, in the Hubble Frontier Fields.
Kiso 5639 is a dwarf galaxy with a burst of star formation from infalling gas, observed with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Little blue dots observed with Hubble Space Telescope
Tiny galaxies that may be precursors to globular clusters appear as little blue dots in the Hubble Frontier Fields observed with the Hubble Space Telescope.
Most distant Milky Way outpost mapped
Debra Elmegreen, Professor and Chair of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair, was quoted in a Science story about the mapping of a distant Milky Way outpost. October 13, 2017
For One Astronomer, a Solar Eclipse Illuminates Progress for Women in the Field
Vassar’s first professor, astronomer Maria Mitchell and Debra Elmegreen, Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair and Department Chair, were the subjects of a Chronicle of Higher Education story.
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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 and the American Astronomical Society. 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.