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Stephen S. Lawrence

Professor of Physics and Astronomy


PHD, 1994, University Michigan; MS, 1990, University Michigan; BA, 1988, Univ Chicago


A native of Bellevue, Michigan, Professor Stephen Lawrence earned a BA in physics from The University of Chicago, and an MS and PhD in astronomy from the University of Michigan.  He held research postdoctoral research/teaching positions at the National Observatory of Mexico, Bowling Green State University (Ohio) and Columbia University (New York).  His research interests include stellar explosions and their nebulous remnants, light echoes and interstellar dust, the search for "exoplanets" around other stars and astrobiology.  He regularly uses the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope, as well as large telescopes in Arizona and Chile, to conduct his research.  He is also interested in issues of diversity and equality (gender, race and LGBTIQ representation) in the physical science professions.

Recent papers:
Larsson, J., et al., “Three-dimensional Distribution of Ejecta in Supernova 1987A at 10,000 Days,” Astrophysical Journal, 833, 147 (Dec 2016)
Fransson, C., et al., ,“The Destruction of the Circumstellar Ring of SN 1987A, ,” Astrophysical Journal Letters, 806, L19 (Jun 2015)
Sokolosky, J., Crotts, A., Lawrence, S., and Uthas, H., ,“The Recurrent Nova T Pyx: Distance and Remnant Geometry from Light Echoes,” Astrophysical Journal Letters, 770, L33 (Jun 2013)
Larsson, J., et al., “X-ray Illumination of the Ejecta of Supernova 1987A,” Nature, 474, 484, (Jun 2011)
France, K., et al., “Observing Supernova 1987A with the Refurbished Hubble Space Telescope,” Science, 329, 1624 (Sep 2010)

Research with Hofstra students:
Ali Hyder ’18, BS in Physics and Mathematics, Minor in Astronomy
New Mexico State University, PhD program, Dept. of Astronomy
Ali worked with Professor Lawrence on Hubble Space Telescope imaging of the light echoes of Supernova 2014J in the galaxy M 82 and Supernova 2016adj in the galaxy Centaurus A, using the light flash from these stellar explosions to map the 3D distribution of nearby interstellar dust in their home galaxies. Ali also did an REU at Cornell in Summer 2017, studying molecules in Jupiter's atmosphere.

Charlotte Wood ’16, BS in Physics, Minor in Astronomy and Mathematics
Notre Dame University, PhD program, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
Charlotte worked with Professor Lawrence on Hubble Space Telescope imaging and spectroscopy of the novae T Pyxidis and V595 Monocerotis, studying the expanding gaseous debris of the remnants of their recent explosions. Charlotte also did an REU at Univ. of Oklahoma in Summer 2015, studying white dwarf stars.

Damon Pappas ’13, BS in Physics, Minor in Astronomy and Mathematics
Hofstra University, MS in Medical Physics program, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy 2015
Damon worked with Professor Lawrence on Kepler Space Telescope data searching for exoplanets orbiting other stars.  He independently confirmed the existence of two exoplanets using the method of transit timing variations.

Dr. Lauren Palladino ’07, BS in Physics & Mathematics, Minor in Astronomy
PhD in Astronomy, Vanderbilt University 2014
Lauren worked with Dr. Lawrence on Hubble Space Telescope imaging and International Ultraviolet Explorer spectra of the region surrounding Supernova 1987A, working to create an extremely deep image of its galactic surroundings and to search for ultraviolet counterparts to its famous optical light echoes.

  • Stephen Lawrence; Palladino, L.; Crotts, A.; Poster Presentation, “The Elusive Ultraviolet Light Echo of Supernova 1987A.” American Astronomical Society, Honolulu, Hawaii, May 2007
  • Stephen Lawrence; Palladino, L.; “Is There an Echo in Here Out There?” Astronomical Society of New York, Hempstead, New York, April 2007.

Maurice Hayon ’03, BS in Physics, Minor in Mathematics and Secondary Education
Currently working in the Department of Physical Sciences, Baldwin High School, Baldwin, NY
Maurice worked with Dr. Lawrence on Hubble Space Telescope imaging data on Supernova 1987A, searching for its optical light echoes in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  He won an award for his poster at a regional meeting of the American Physical Society in Fall 2002.

  • Lawrence, Hayon, Sugerman and Crotts, “HST Archival Imaging of the Light Echoes of SN 1987A,” poster presented at the 201st meeting of the American Astronomical Society, Seattle, WA, January 2003

Teaching Interests

astronomy, astrobiology, physics

Research Interests

Stellar explosions and their remnants, light echoes, extrasolar planets and astrobiology

Recent Courses Taught

Course Title Level
ASTR 011 (NS) THE SOLAR SYSTEM Undergraduate
Photo of Stephen Lawrence

H. Berliner Hall 0217A
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