Skip to main content

Westminster hosts Dr. Rob Wittenmyer for Robert M. Woods Memorial Lecture

Share on:

Posted on Monday, January 30, 2017

Westminster College’s Department of Physics will host Dr. Rob Wittenmyer for a Robert M. Woods Memorial Lecture at 7 p.m. on February 15 in Phillips Lecture Hall, Hoyt Science Resources Center. Wittenmyer’s lecture, "The Great Unveiling: A New Golden Age of Exoplanetary Science," is free and open to the public.

Wittenmyer will describe the tremendous challenges and opportunities of exoplanetary science to arise over the next decade. He says that the “The next revolution will be one of understanding - a ‘great unveiling’ as we learn the detailed properties of the planetary systems in the Solar neighborhood”.

Currently an Associate Professor at the University of Southern Queensland near Brisbane (USQ), near Brisbane Wittenmyer leads the MINERVA-Australis exoplanet observatory. “He is a world leader in the use of the radial velocity method to discover and study planets,” said Dr. Thomas Oberst, Westminster College Associate Professor of Physics and Director of the Westminster Planetarium and Observatory. This is contrary to the transit method that Oberst and his students have used to co-discover planets at Westminster.

“We are extremely excited for Rob’s visit to Westminster,” added Oberst.

Wittenmyer and Oberst collaborate through the KELT planet search project, and Wittenmyer will host Westminster students in Australia in 2018 for summer research in astronomy as part of the $250,000 NSF IRES grant recently co-awarded to Westminster College. Read more here:

Wittenmyer earned his undergraduate degree from Williams College, a master's degree in biology from Boston University and a master's degree in astronomy from San Diego State University. After teaching in central California and spending a year at the Antarctic Research Centre, he earned a PhD from the University of Texas-Austin. Wittenmyer’s postdoctoral research at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia led to a Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship, followed by a tenured Senior Lecturer position.

The Woods Memorial Lecture honors Dr. Robert M. Woods, professor of physics at Westminster College from 1947-1972.  It is made possible by a gift from the Woods family that has been supplemented over the years by gifts from friends and alumni.

For more information, contact Doreen Matune at or 724-946-7284.