Douglas WhittetCareer Highlights:

Emeritus Professor of Physics, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Director, New York Center for Astrobiology (2008/15)
Rensselaer Alumni Association Outstanding Teacher Award (2002)


Ph.D., Astronomy, University of St Andrews (1975)
B.Sc., Physics (Hons.), University of St Andrews (1970)

Research Interests:

  • The astrochemistry of the interstellar medium, especially with regard to the origin of organic molecules and water in protoplanetary disks around newly born stars, and the relationship between interstellar matter and protoplanetary material in our own and other solar systems.
  • The optical properties of interstellar dust grains, especially with regard to the extinction and polarization of starlight; applications of observational polarimetry to studies of grain alignment, the growth of dust grains by coagulation, and the strength and structure of the galactic magnetic field.
  • The history of astronomy and music in the Nordic countries, especially Finland.