Charles Lawrence to present Marker Lectures in Astronomy and Astrophysics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Charles Lawrence, senior research scientist and principal scientist at the California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, will present the Russell Marker Lectures in Astronomy and Astrophysics on April 22, 24 and 25, at the Penn State University Park campus. The lecture series includes a presentation intended for a general audience, "Measuring the Universe," which will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, in 101 Thomas Building. In the lecture, Lawrence will describe how astronomers are able to determine the fundamental properties of the universe such as its age, size, composition and expansion rate, with an emphasis on the recent advances made possible by large ground-based surveys and sophisticated space missions. In addition to the public lecture, Lawrence will give two specialized lectures on April 22 and 24, in S5 Osmond Laboratory. Both of these lectures will be held at 4 p.m. The Marker Lectures are sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Lawrence is the U.S. project scientist for the Planck satellite, a third-generation mission launched in 2009 that is investigating the cosmic microwave background -- radiation produced only 370,000 years after the Big Bang. These observations, frequently described as "the photograph of the infant universe," reveal the conditions present in the universe when it first became transparent to radiation. The initial cosmological results from Planck were released in March of 2013. Lawrence will describe these findings and place them in context to our current understanding of the cosmos.

After receiving a doctoral degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1983, Lawrence moved to the California Institute of Technology. He has a wide range of research interests, including the properties of extragalactic radio sources, gravitational lensing and the cosmic microwave background. Since 1998 he has been the deputy project scientist for the Spitzer Space Telescope, a major NASA mission that studied infrared radiation. He also was a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton.

The Marker Lectures were established in 1984 through a gift from Penn State professor emeritus of chemistry Russell Earl Marker, whose pioneering synthetic methods revolutionized the steroid-hormone industry and opened the door to the current era of hormone therapies, including the birth-control pill. The Marker endowment allows the Penn State Eberly College of Science to present annual Marker Lectures in astronomy and astrophysics, the chemical sciences, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the mathematical sciences and physics.

For more information, contact Donald Schneider at 814-863-9554 or, Peter Meszaros at or Niel Brandt at For access assistance, contact Laurie Dasher at 814-865-0418 or

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Last Updated January 09, 2015