Pittsford Resident featured on History Channel’s The Universe
Don Figer interviewed for two episodes of the popular program
Sept. 18, 2009
by Susan Gawlowicz
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Two upcoming episodes of the History Channel’s popular series The Universe will feature Pittsford resident and Rochester Institute of Technology professor Don Figer.
A crew from the History Channel interviewed Figer on campus this past summer about star clusters and astronomical objects called pulsars and quasars. “The Search for Cosmic Clusters” is scheduled to run at 9 p.m. Sept. 29, followed by “Pulsars and Quasars,” at 9 p.m. Oct. 20, on Time Warner Cable channel 63.
The Universe explores ground-breaking discoveries through interviews with today’s top scientists like Figer, an expert on massive stars, star formation at the centers of galaxies and sensor development.
Figer pioneered the subfield of massive young star clusters. His research group is responsible for identifying five of the 10 known massive young clusters in the Milky Way Galaxy. Many of these discoveries were made through observations with an infrared spectrograph—the optics for which Figer designed—mounted on the world’s largest telescope, the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
In 1997, news that Figer had identified one of the most massive stars in the universe, the Pistol Star, landed Figer on the front page of The New York Times and interviews with international media. Figer’s research further revealed that young massive stellar clusters exist in the Milky Way.
Figer joined RIT in 2005 through a faculty development grant awarded by the New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation to direct the Rochester Imaging Detector Laboratory in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. He was recruited from the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, where he developed and tested detectors for the new James Webb Space Telescope.