Research

My research includes nearly all aspects of observational astrophysics, from photometric observations of nearby asteroids to spectroscopic studies of element formation in the Early Universe, using telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Telescope in Hawaii. I am the author of “The Power of Stars – How Celestial Observations Have Shaped Civilization,” published by Springer, Inc. and now in its second edition. The book arose from my course “Archaeoastronomy and World Cosmology” at Pomona College, and explores the interconnections between cultures, civilizations and the sky – and how the experience of the night sky has had such a profound effect on people and cultures throughout the centuries.

In my astronomy research, I have focused on spectroscopy of interstellar clouds – which is a way to measure the presence of distant elements and study the evolution and physical state of clouds billions of light years away. I have authored or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles, in the Astrophysical Journal, Astronomical Journal, and  in Nature and Science. In my astronomy life I have served on numerous NSF and NASA review panels, including the Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee and the NASA/Keck Time Allocation Committee. My most recent research program is a collaboration with Caltech to develop the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and a Global Relay of Observatories known as GROWTH for studying gamma ray bursts, new supernovae, and the electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave sources. I have been discussing a new telescope for Soka University – and hope to link Soka University to a global network of telescopes that include observatories in Chile, the US, India and Taiwan, which should be a great way to help Soka students become global astronomical citizens. If you would like to have a complete list of my publications, which includes writings on higher education, liberal arts in Asia, as well as astrophysics, you can download my complete CV at this link:  CV.bpenprase.9.25.17