Sandra Faber Receives Outstanding Faculty Award

August 24, 1999

Robin Witmore
UCO/Lick Publications Office

SANTA CRUZ, CA: Professor Sandra Faber has received an Outstanding Faculty Award for 1998-99, bestowed by a committee of department chairs from the Division of Natural Sciences at UC Santa Cruz. David S. Kliger, Dean of Natural Sciences, presented the award, which honors committment to excellence in research, teaching, and service to the campus and community. “Dr. Faber received her Ph.D. from Harvard and began her career at UCSC in 1972,” said Dean Kliger. “By all accounts she is one of the leading cosmologists in the world.”

Dr. Faber is renowned for her research in extragalactic astronomy and cosmology. She has made significant contributions in the areas of structure and formation of elliptical galaxies; the nature, compositions, and motions of stars within a galaxy as related to their ages; and the streaming motions of large numbers of galaxies. Important concepts such as “cold dark matter” and the “Great Attractor” are direct results of work by Dr. Faber and her colleagues.

Serving on the Wide-Field Planetary Camera Team of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), Dr. Faber was one of three astronomers who diagnosed the flaw in the Hubble mirror and reported this news to NASA. Currently she is leader of the Deep Imaging Multiobject Spectrograph (DEIMOS) team. DEIMOS is a path-breaking spectrograph for the Keck Telescopes that will make possible large surveys of the distant Universe for the first time.

Students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels have uniformly praised Dr. Faber’s teaching abilities. Numerous students have commented in their evaluations that she was the best instructor they ever had. She has supervised the Ph.D. theses of a large number of students, many of whom have gone on to very successful careers.

Dr. Faber’s service to the Astronomy Program and to the UCSC campus is extensive, and includes numerous Department and Observatory activities and several Senate committees. For the last three years she has been a member of the Applied Math Search Committee and has been tireless in helping to launch the new department. She has also served on several campus Searches Committees, including Search Committees for the UCO Director and several Astronomy Department postions. Altogether she has been instrumental in bringing eight new faculty members to our campus.

In addition, she was a key member of the Search Committee that brought us Chancellor Greenwood. According to Dean Kliger, “The Chancellor has even been heard to say that it was Dr. Faber’s personal commitment to scholarship and teaching and her obvious enthusiasm for UC Santa Cruz that encouraged her (Greenwood’s) interest in UCSC and convinced her to accept the appointment.”

As evidence of the wide respect in the scientific community for her research accomplishments, Dr. Faber is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 1986 she received the Heinemann Prize of the American Astronomical Society. She has also been a member of the California Council on Science and Technology.

An early proponent of the Keck Telescope, Dr. Faber developed the scientific case, and oversaw the optical design effort. She co-chaired the Science Steering Committee, which was responsible for the extraordinary quality of the Keck optics. Dr. Faber has served the astronomical community by helping to plan the Hubble Refurbishment Mission after the flaw was discovered. She served on the National Academy’s Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics and provided guidance as Chair of the Visiting Committee for the Space Telescope Institute.

Currently Dr. Faber serves as a Trustee of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, on the Board of the SETI Institute and as a Director and member of the Executive Committee for the Annual Reviews.

Professor Faber is one of just four non-emeritus faculty members in the UC system elevated to the post of “University Professor”. The title “University Professor” is the highest honor that UC bestows to recognize distinguished accomplishments in research and teaching.

“In summary,” said Dean Kliger about this award, “Dr. Faber is an internationally known and highly respected scientist who is held in high regard for her excellence in research, teaching and service. She is truly an important asset to our campus and the Division of Natural Sciences. I hope you will join me in congratulating Dr. Faber on this recognition of her accomplishments.”

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