Yervant Terzian


Honorary Degree (1989)
Doctor of Science
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Thomas Ehrlich


Yervant Terzian, chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University and professor of astronomy and of history and philosophy of science and technology, is recognized internationally as one of the foremost researchers in the field of radio astronomy. He is respected especially for his path-breaking work in planetary nebulae, in which he is widely considered the leading authority, and in circumstellar material, OH-1R stars, pulsars, and interstellar matter.

Dr. Terzian received the B.Sc. in physics and mathematics from American University in Cairo, Egypt, in 1960. He did his graduate work at Indiana University and was awarded the M.S. in Astronomy in 1963 and the Ph.D. in 1965. During that time he studied also at Harvard University under a National Science Foundation Fellowship and was a research associate at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

He began his career with Cornell University in 1965 as a research associate and head of scientific services at Cornell's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and was appointed to the University faculty in 1967. The following year he became assistant director of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell. He served as visiting professor at the University of Montreal and the University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and was appointed professor of astronomy at Cornell in 1977. He became chairman of the Department of Astronomy in 1979, and received the additional appointment of professor of history and philosophy of science and technology in 1986.

The high regard in which Dr. Terzian is held by his colleagues throughout the world for his scientific achievement and leadership is evidenced by the positions he holds in professional and scientific organizations and his chairmanship of numerous international symposia, conferences, and review panels. He is a key member of the worldwide astronomical community, through both his research and the valued perspectives he has brought to many offices and appointments.

Dr. Terzian is the author of 125 articles and four books on astronomy, astrophysics, and radio astronomy. In particular, his book Planetary Nebulae: Theory and Observations, published in 1978, is considered a classic in the field and has significantly influenced the direction of research.

He has contributed substantially to establishing the reputation of the Arecibo Observatory, the site of the world's largest single-dish radio telescope. His career at Cornell University over the past twenty-four years reflects an exceptional balance of distinguished contributions in research, teaching, and administration.