September 20, 2013

Nobel laureate visits Alaska Middle College School



During Nobel laureate and astrophysicist Brian P. Schmidt’s visit to the University of Alaska Anchorage in August to deliver two lectures, he took the time to visit several local schools, including his old stomping ground of Bartlett High School where he graduated in 1985.

Professor Brian P. Schmidt was awarded the
Nobel Prize in physics in 2011.
He also addressed students at the Alaska Middle College School (AMCS). The school is an early college program housed at the Community & Technical College's Chugiak-Eagle River Campus. A question and answer period followed, and students had the opportunity to ask Schmidt about his life and scientific achievements.

Most of his presentation to AMCS students focused on his own life experiences and served as an opportunity to share words of wisdom with the teens.

“Do what interests you,” he said.

Schmidt encouraged students to have fun and never be afraid to attempt to do something out of fear they may not be good at it.

His visit was sponsored by the UAA University Honors College.

Links

About Brian P. Schmidt 

Brian P. Schmidt is a distinguished professor, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow, and astrophysicist at the Australian National University Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes. He currently holds an Australia Research Council Federation Fellowship and was elected to the Royal Society in 2012. Schmidt shared both the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess for providing evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. Professor Schmidt is currently leading the SkyMapper telescope project and the associated Southern Sky Survey.

Professor Schmidt was born on February 24, 1967, in Missoula, Montana, where his father Dana C. Schmidt was a fisheries biologist. When he was 13, his family relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, where he attended Bartlett High School and graduated in 1985. He said that he wanted to be a meteorologist from the time he was about five years old, but after doing some work at the USA National Weather Service in Anchorage he didn’t find it that exciting.

His decision to study astronomy, which he had seen as a minor pastime, was made just before he enrolled at university. He earned his B.S. in physics and B.S. in astronomy from the University of Arizona in 1989. He received his M.A. in astronomy in 1992 and then Ph.D. in astronomy in 1993 from Harvard University. Schmidt's Ph.D. thesis was supervised by Robert Kirshner and used Type II Supernovae to measure the Hubble Constant.

Professor Schmidt is passionate about the importance of educational opportunities at all levels and especially the way science is taught in primary grades. After he won the Nobel Prize he donated $100,000 of his prize money to the Australian Academy of Science primary school science program.