Don Figer

Director, Center for Detectors, Professor

Center for Detectors
Center for Detectors Observational Astrophysics Group

Contact Information

OfficeENG 3153
Phone(585) 475-6005
Fax(585) 475-4250

Mailing Address

Don Figer, Professor Director, Center for DetectorsRochester Institute of TechnologyCenter for DetectorsEngineering Hall, 17-315374 Lomb Memorial DriveRochester, NY 146235604

Dr. Donald Figer is a leader in developing and deploying new photon detection technologies in the field of Astrophysics. He founded and directed two internationally-recognized laboratories and one interdisciplinary Center, despite significant technological and cultural challenges in all cases. In this capacity, he led and supervised many scientists, engineers, and students.
Dr. Figer leads two research groups at RIT. The first is dedicated to the search for the most massive stars in the Galaxy. His research has led to the identification of the Pistol star, one of the most massive stars known. In addition, he identified an apparent upper limit to the masses of stars. Over the past five years, his research group has identified the bulk of the known young massive star clusters in the Galaxy, a class of objects that was not known to exist ten years ago. Dr. Figer’s second research group is dedicated to the development of advanced imaging detectors for cross-disciplinary applications. This group is leading projects to develop several types of detectors, some of which have very low noise, zero noise and ranging capability, in collaboration with the University of Rochester and Lincoln Laboratory. These detectors have broad relevance for a variety of applications and are being funded by NASA and the Moore Foundation with specific interest for astrophysics, planetary, Earth science missions and the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

Job Responsibilities

Dr. Figer is Director of the Center for Detectors. He is a Professor in the College of Science with appointments in the Astrophysical Science and Technology PhD program and the Microsystems Engineering PhD program.

Research Interests

The Center for Detectors designs, develops, and implements new advanced sensor technologies through collaboration with academic researchers, industry engineers, government scientists, and university/college students. The CfD operates four laboratories and has approximately a dozen funded projects to advance detectors in a broad array of applications, e.g. astrophysics, biomedical imaging, Earth system science, and inter-planetary travel.

Selected Publications

Figer, D. F. 2005, An upper limit to the masses of stars, Nature, 34, 192

Figer, D. F., Kim, S. S., Morris, M., Serabyn, E., Rich, R. M., & McLean,I.S. 1999, HST/NICMOS Observations of Massive Stellar Clusters Near the Galactic Center, ApJ, 525, 750

Davies, B., Figer, D., Herrero, A., Kudritzki, R.P., MacKenty, J., Najarro, F., C. 2007, A massive cluster of Red Supergiants at the base of the Scutum-Crux arm, Astrophysical Journal, 671, 781

Figer, D., MacKenty, J., Robberto, M., Smith, K.,  Najarro, F., Kudritzki, R. 2006, Discovery of an Extraordinarily Massive Young Stellar Cluster, ApJ, 643, 1166

Messineo, Maria, Figer, Donald F., Davies, Ben, Rich, R. Michael, Valenti, E., & Kudritzki, R. P. 2008, Discovery of a young massive stellar cluster near HESS J1813-178, Astrophysical Journal, 683, L155