2017: Alumni Medal

Rochus “Robbie” Vogt, SM’57, PhD’61

  • R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Physics, Emeritus, California Institute of Technology

Pasadena, California

Rochus “Robbie” E. Vogt, SM’57, PhD’61, is the R. Stanton Avery Distinguished Service Professor and Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at the California Institute of Technology. Since his arrival at Caltech in 1962, he has also served as chair of the faculty and of the Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy Division, as well as vice president and provost. His research has focused on astrophysical aspects of cosmic radiation, gamma-ray astronomy, and gravitational-wave astronomy.

A recipient of the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal for his work as a principal investigator on the Voyager mission, Vogt was chief scientist at Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1977–78. As acting director of Caltech’s Owens Valley Radio Observatory in 1980–81, he led the construction of the observatory’s mm-wave interferometer. He had a lead role in bringing about the Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and served as vice chair of the board of directors of the California Association for Research in Astronomy. From 1987 to 1994 he served as the director and principal investigator of the Caltech-MIT Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory project, becoming a corecipient of the 2016 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

Vogt studied as a Fulbright Fellow and earned his doctorate in 1961 at the University of Chicago. He has consulted extensively with industry and government, including NASA, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense. From 1984 to 2015 he was on the board of directors of the International Rectifier Corporation. Currently Vogt represents the University of California Office of the President at its National Security Laboratories, Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories.