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Donald Schneider Named Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Donald Schneider, professor of astronomy and astrophysics, has been named Distinguished Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State. He was honored with the title in recognition of his exceptional record of teaching, research, and service to the University community.

Schneider, whose primary research area of interest is observational cosmology, is best known for the development of a new technique to measure distances to galaxies, for the recovery of Comet Halley in 1982, and for breaking his own and others' records numerous times in the discovery of the most-distant known object in the universe. For the past decade, much of his research effort has been devoted to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is a large international effort to produce a comprehensive digital map of the sky. Schneider has served as the chairman of the quasar science group and as the science publications coordinator for the project. The survey, which will be completed in July 2008, has identified 100,000 quasars -- the most luminous known objects -- and has measured the distances to over a million galaxies. Schneider is particularly interested in finding and determining the properties of high-redshift quasars. He employs optical telescopes as time machines to view the distant past, when the universe was only a small fraction of its current size and age. Since 2004, Schneider also has served as the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Scientist.

In 2006, Schneider received a C.I. Noll Award for Excellence in Teaching. Sponsored by the Eberly College of Science Student Council and Alumni Society, the C.I. Noll Award is presented annually to faculty members and instructors in the Eberly College of Science who demonstrate a record of excellence both in teaching and in their interactions with students. For the past several years, Schneider has taught a year-long introductory course for astronomy majors and has been active in placing students in research programs throughout the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Schneider received a bachelor's degree in physics and mathematics, with highest distinction, from the University of Nebraska in 1976. He received a doctoral degree in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1982 and was a research fellow there from 1982 to 1985. From 1985 to 1994, he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He joined the faculty at Penn State in 1994 as an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics, and was promoted to professor in 1999.

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