Douglas Whittet

Douglas Whittet
Emeritus Professor of Physics
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy, New York 12180, USA


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

Research Interests:

  • Astrobiology: Studying the environments and processes that gave birth to life on our planet, and hence gaining insight into the probability that life has arisen (or will arise) elsewhere in our Galaxy.
  • Astrochemistry: Studying the origin of organic molecules and water in interstellar clouds and protoplanetary disks around newly born stars, and the relationship between interstellar matter and planet-building material in our own and other solar systems.
  • The optical properties of interstellar dust grains responsible for the extinction and polarization of starlight; applications of observational data to studies of grain alignment, grain growth, and the strength and structure of the galactic magnetic field.
  • The history of astronomy and music in the Nordic countries, especially Finland.