RGZ Team Spotlight: Lawrence Rudnick
I’m a Distinguished Teaching Professor of Astrophysics at the University of Minnesota. But before I was distinguished, I grew up in Philadelphia, where I decided in 6th grade that I would go into science while I was helping my grandfather pour molten lead into molds to make fishing sinkers. My bachelor’s and PhD degrees are in physics, but astrophysics was what really kept me up thinkng at night. I’ve worked mostly in the radio part of the spectrum, using telescopes all over the world, plus some work in X-rays and infrared. I’ve studied radio galaxies, since the late 70s when Frazer Owen and I introduced a classification system for tailed radio galaxies. Identifications were pretty painful then, taking about an hour each to get the radio and optical photographs lined up. We’ve come a long way! My students and I also spent some years studying the radiation from the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A and others, producing the first 3D image of an explosion. Today, my work focuses on clusters of galaxies and their connections with large scale structure.
The most interesting course I teach is one called “Nothing” where we explore everything from the vacuum, to the number zero, to blind people seeing nothing, to placebos, to King Lear. I’ve done a lot of K-12 work, training teachers in using hands-on science activities, and do a lot of public education, through lectures, radio and TV interviews, and working with our local Planetarium. Radio Galaxy Zoo is my first citizen science project, and I’m really looking forward to how much we’re going to learn.