Eberly College of Science

Garmire, Evan Pugh professor emeritus, retires

Gordon P. Garmire, Evan Pugh professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics, has retired after 30 years of service to Penn State. He is the co-discoverer of high-energy gamma rays and is responsible for developing many of the data-analysis algorithms used today in high-energy astrophysics. He also is credited with the discovery of the first nonpulsating neutron star in a supernova remnant and the construction of the first X-ray telescope to use diamond-turned mirrors — high-quality, nested X-ray mirrors with precise shapes.

In addition, Garmire is the principal investigator of the team that conceived and designed the ACIS X-ray camera — used for viewing high-energy objects in the farthest reaches of the universe. The camera is orbiting the earth as part of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which was launched on the space shuttle Columbia on July 23, 1999. The Chandra X-Ray Observatory is the third of NASA's Great Observatories, following the Hubble Space Telescope and the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory.

Garmire has received many awards recognizing his outstanding scientific achievements. In 2000, he was awarded a NASA Public Service Medal and, in 1978, he received a NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award. Early in his career, Garmire was awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and a Senior Hays Fulbright Fellowship. Garmire has been elected chairman of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society on two separate occasions and is a member of the International Astronomical Union. Throughout his career, Garmire has served on numerous NASA advisory panels, including the Readiness Task Force, the Structure and Evolution of the Universe Subcommittee (SEUS), the Advisory Panel on Physical Sciences to the Administrator of NASA, and the High Energy Operations Management Working Group. He has authored over 250 scientific papers in publications such as the Astrophysical Journal and the Physical Review.

Garmire received his doctoral degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1962, where he worked as a staff scientist until 1964 and as an assistant professor from 1964 to 1966. He joined the California Institute of Technology as a senior fellow in 1966, and became a faculty member there in 1968 and was appointed professor of physics in 1972. He joined the astronomy department at Penn State in 1980 and was awarded an Evan Pugh Professorship in 1985.

Garmire's retirement plans include travel, visiting his three grandchildren, and continuing to analyze and publish research papers with his wife, Penn State researcher, Audrey Garmire, based on observations using the Chandra X-ray Observatory. Garmire also will continue to pursue his interests in music, physics, writing, reading, hiking and other outdoor recreations.

Gordon P. Garmire, Evan Pugh professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated October 17, 2019