The 2008 Antoinette de Vaucouleurs Award Recipient: Dr. Christopher McKee
The thirteenth award of the Antoinette de Vaucouleurs Medal and Prize honors the distinguished American Physicist and Astronomer Dr. Christopher F. McKee of the University of California, Berkeley.
Dr. Christopher McKee
Dr. Christopher F. McKee's research and academic career has come full-circle, but a wide circle of accomplishment it has been. He receivd his PhD in Physics in 1970 at UC, Berkeley, and after a variety of appointments and research locations, is at present back at Berkeley as Professor of Physics and Astronomy.
He has performed research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, been a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, and an Assistant Professor at Harvard, before finally returning to the scientific locus of UC Berkeley. His list of accomplishments at Berkeley at the apogee of his career is extensive: he helped establish the Theoretical Astrophysics Center, served as Director for the Space Sciences Laboratory (1985-1998), chaired the Physics Department (2000-2004), and co-chaired the 2000 Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee -- which conducted a decadal and encompassing survey in astronomy and astrophysics.
He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
Dr. McKee's research and study focuses on the theory of the physical processes in the interstellar medium (the diffuse gas between the stars). Both alone and in concert with colleagues and students, he has developed a three-phase model of the interstellar medium, refining and validating this model using analytical and numerical techniques.
This model encompasses the theory of the evaporation of clouds by both hot gas and ionizing radiation, the evolution of supernova remnants and stellar wind bubbles, the structure and emission specturm of interstellar shocks, the evolution of interstellar dust grains, the structure of molecular clouds. In addition to these, it includes the theory of active galactic nuclei, which focuses particularly on the study of reverberation mapping and of Compton-heated coronae and winds above accretion disks.
Presently, Dr. Christopher McKee is concentrating on the theory of star formation, including the formation of the first stars. With Dr. Richard Klein, he has established the Berkeley Astrophysical Fluid Dynamics Group, working to develop the technique of adaptive mesh refinement for numerical simulations of astrophysical fluid dynamics, a tool especially vital to the study of star formation.
In Memoriam: Antoinette de Vaucouleurs