As a graduate student in physics at the New York University in Manhattan, Steve Federman says, "somebody showed me pretty pictures" of astronomical phenomena. Sparking an interest in the discipline, he attended monthly meetings of an amateur astronomy group in New York City. Steve says these two things were probably what influenced him most to find a career in astronomy.
Steve received his bachelor's degree in physics at the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now Polytechnic University) and his master's and doctorate in physics from New York University. After doing post-doctoral studies at the University of Texas at Austin, he worked for a while at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Since 1988, he has been on the faculty at The University of Toledo.
Studying the Stuff Between the Stars
Steve says he spends much of his research effort in understanding the nature of material between stars, called "the interstellar medium." In these regions where gas and dust have collected into molecular clouds, new generations of stars are formed. Steve, through his work, says he hopes to better understand how the physical environment offered by the interstellar medium affects this star formation. Steve often uses the telescopes of McDonald Observatory as well as the Hubble Space Telescope. He collaborates with many astronomers in the United States and around the world including David Lambert, the current director of McDonald Observatory.
One of the things Steve says he likes best about his job is "seeing all the pieces [of a project] come together and understanding why things are the way they are."
Tennis and a Teenage Daughter
In his spare time, Steve enjoys playing tennis and also enjoys hiking and biking occasionally. He has one daughter who is in her beginning year of high school. He regards this time as "an exciting event for them."
Professor, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, University of Toledo
Ph.D., Physics, New York University
M.S., Physics, New York University
B.S., Physics, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn