Professor David J. Helfand, Ph.D.

Professor David J. Helfand
  • Columbia University
  • University of Massachusetts
100 billion: the number of atoms in a neuron, neurons in a human brain, stars in our galaxy, and galaxies in the universe. The equality? Coincidence. That we know this? A cause for celebration.
Dr. David J. Helfand is Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University, where he has taught for over 30 years. He was an undergraduate at Amherst College and earned his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he worked under Professor Joseph Taylor, the 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physics. Professor Helfand's research has covered many areas of modern astrophysics, including radio, optical, and X-ray observations of celestial sources ranging from nearby stars to the most distant quasars. He is involved in a major project to survey our galaxy with a sensitivity and resolution a hundred times greater than what is currently available. The goal is to obtain a complete picture of stellar birth and death in the Milky Way. Professor Helfand received a Presidential Teaching Award and a Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates. At Columbia, he realized a long-term goal to introduce a science course into the university's famed Core Curriculum. In addition to his teaching duties, Professor Helfand lectures extensively on science to the general public, has appeared on the Discovery Channel's Science News, and is featured in the National Geographic Channel's Known Universe.

"Professor Helfand's erudition and subtle humor combine to provide a highly instructive and entertaining lecture series. Highly recommended for everyone."