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Published: December 2, 2019

David J. Helfand, a faculty member at Columbia University for forty years, served nearly half of that time as Chair of the Department of Astronomy — a position he has again resumed. He also recently completed a four-year term as President of the American Astronomical Society, the professional society for astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists and solar physicists in North America. He is the author of nearly 200 scientific publications and has mentored 22 Ph.D. students, but most of his pedagogical efforts have been aimed at teaching science to non-science majors. He instituted the first change in Columbia's Core Curriculum in 50 years by introducing science to all first-year students.

David J. Helfand teaching in front of a classroom.

While he may be the creator of Frontiers of Science, chair of the Astronomy Department, co-chair of the Astrophysics Laboratory, former president of the American Astronomical Society, on the board of directors for the American Institute of Physics, treasurer and executive committee member of ScienceCounts, former president of a radical university in Canada, the man who rewrote humankind’s understanding of neutron stars, award-winning author, and fabulous chef, Helfand does not have very good hand-eye-lip coordination. “I’ve never learned, to this day, how to drink anything hot without burning my lips, my tongue, the roof of my mouth, and everything else.”

Read more about David J. Helfand on the Spectator online.

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