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Melville Ulmer

Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences

Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy


Areas of Focus

  • Space optics and infrared detectors
  • Cosmology and transients
  • High contrast imaging for exoplanets


  • APERTURE, a NASA Innovative Advanced Concept project for large space telescopes
  • Developing a high-speed Near Infrared camera with funding from the W.M. Keck Foundation to image Earth-like planets orbiting in the habitable zone of their host planets
  • X-ray astronomy: clusters of galaxies and tidal disruption events


Before coming to Northwestern in 1976, Ulmer spent four years at the University of California, San Diego and two years at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He became the Director of the Astrophysics Program at Northwestern University in 1983 and has been a professor since 1987. In addition, Ulmer was a charter member and co-investigator of the Oriented Scintillation Spectrometer Experiment (OSSE) on the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory. He has published more than 400 articles in journals and conference proceedings in his career and is a fellow of the American Physical Society, Fellow of SPIE, NIAC Fellow. Ulmer also has served on numerous NASA advisory and review panels.