UCSC Ranked #1 in Astrophysics Research

February 1, 2000

Contact: Tim Stephens, UCSC Public Information Office
831-459-2495, stephens@cats.ucsc.edu

SANTA CRUZ, CA--In the field of astrophysics, the University of California, Santa Cruz, leads the pack in terms of the impact of its researchers on the field, according to an independent national science group. The group ranked UC Santa Cruz number one in astrophysics among the top 100 federally funded U.S. universities.

The Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), based in Philadelphia, ranked the universities whose research papers attracted the most attention from other scholars in each of 24 fields between 1994 and 1998. The results for astrophysics were recently published on the organization’s Web site at http://www.isinet.com/hot/research/19990830/b.html.

ISI’s rankings are based on an analysis of scholarly citations. When researchers publish a journal article, they must cite previous papers by other authors that set the stage for their work. Generally, a paper garners more citations when scientists accept the work as important and well done. ISI analysts consider the average number of citations per paper, or the “citation impact,” as the most objective way to gauge the quality of a department’s or an institution’s research.

“This is an interesting ranking in that it’s a measure of the impact of published research on the field--not how many papers you’ve published, but how often other scientists refer to your papers,” said Joseph Miller, director of UC Observatories/Lick Observatory.

ISI previously ranked UCSC’s astrophysicists second in citation impact for the period 1993 to 1997. In the latest rankings, UCSC has displaced Princeton University from the top slot. Other notable institutions that trail UCSC in the latest rankings include Yale University, UC Berkeley, Stanford University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

UCSC’s faculty includes leading researchers on both the observational and theoretical sides of astronomy and astrophysics. Research areas in which UCSC is especially strong include the study of galaxies; cosmology, which is concerned with the structure and evolution of the universe; the formation of stars and planets, including the discovery of planets outside the solar system; and high-energy phenomena such as supernovae and gamma ray bursts.

“We have been doing good research in some very exciting areas, so it’s not too surprising that we’re getting this recognition,” said Stanford Woosley, professor and chair of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC.

UCSC astronomers are also involved in the design and construction of major telescopes and other instruments, Woosley noted. UCSC astronomers have been integrally involved in the design, construction, and use of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii since the project’s inception. The observatory houses the world’s largest optical and infrared telescopes, the twin Keck I and Keck II Telescopes. UCSC astronomers are also among the leading users of the Hubble Space Telescope.

Headquartered on the UCSC campus is UC Observatories/Lick Observatory, the multicampus research unit that oversees the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton and UC’s involvement in the Keck Observatory. The Lick Observatory, established in 1888, continues to be a major astronomical research facility and is heavily used by UCSC astronomers.


Editor’s Notes:

You may contact Professor Woosley at 831-459-2976 or woosley@ucolick.org and Professor Miller at 831-459-2991 or miller@ucolick.org.

This release is available electronically at the following Web site: http://press.ucsc.edu.

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