2018: Norman Maclean Faculty Award

Doyal “Al” Harper

  • Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the College

Williams Bay, Wisconsin

Al Harper is a professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and director of Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. His research addresses problems in the formation of galaxies, stars, and planetary systems; the physics of the interstellar medium; and the properties of interstellar dust. His experimental research group constructs and operates infrared instrumentation and pioneered airborne infrared astronomy and astrophysical observations from the South Pole.

In addition to his scientific research contributions, Professor Harper has mentored and supported countless students and has been an enthusiastic research adviser to both undergraduate and graduate students at UChicago. Students have benefited in particular from the wide range of research opportunities he provides—they are able to do hands-on work in the laboratory, design and build instrumentation, carry out observational programs at ground-based and airborne observatories, and develop and employ computational tools for data analysis.

Professor Harper’s commitment to the students at the University of Chicago has been an incredible gift to those he has taught and mentored. One current project is the renovation and modernization of a telescope at Yerkes Observatory so that it can be used for teaching and student projects at the undergraduate level. This is just one example of his dedication to the students in the University community. Professor Harper embraces teaching and one-on-one guidance as central to his career, and all his students can attest to his generosity and leadership capabilities.