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Prof. Bryan Penprase Selected as American Council on Education Fellow

Professor Bryan Penprase teaching archaeoastronomy

Professor Bryan Penprase teaching archaeoastronomy

Bryan Penprase, the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Astronomy at Pomona College, has been selected for the American Council on Education (ACE) Fellows Program. Established in 1965, the leadership development program focuses on identifying and preparing senior leadership for the nation's colleges and universities.

The ACE Fellows Program combines retreats, interactive learning opportunities, campus visits and placement at another higher education institution to condense years of on-the-job experience and skills development into a single year. During the placement, Fellows observe and work with a college or university president and other senior officers at a host institution, attend decision-making meetings and focus on issues of concern. They also engage in leadership and management activities to enhance their knowledge about the challenges and opportunities confronting higher education.

Penprase became interested in learning more about higher education administration after serving as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 2007-11. “I enjoyed being chair and helping our physics and astronomy program grow, working with colleagues to revise our curriculum and mentoring younger colleagues,” says Penprase. “By becoming an ACE fellow, I hope to learn how to create even larger communities of discussion than those in my classroom, and how to engage on more urgent issues facing our society, such as scientific literacy, training students for the next generation of careers, and how to help preserve the vitality and relevance of our colleges and universities in a time of rapid change and declining resources.”

“After the ACE fellowship,” says Penprase, “I hope I can serve as a Division II chair or associate dean, and use this position to help foster greater collaboration within the campus departments, and also to help foster connections between the Pomona community and the wider array of Los Angeles institutions.”

At Pomona, Penprase is the director of the Frank P. Brackett Observatory and is the astronomy program coordinator. He teaches archeoastronomy, introductory astronomy and astrophysics. He focuses his research on quasar absorption lines, gamma ray bursts, the interstellar medium, galactic structure and nearby galaxies. That research has taken him around the world, to observe with telescopes at the Australian AAT; the observatories of CTIO and ESO in Chile; Caltech's telescopes on Mauna Kea and Palomar, Calif.; Pomona College’s telescopes on Table Mountain and Claremont, Calif. and the Nordic Optical Telescope in La Palma, Spain. He is the author or co-author of numerous scholarly articles and the author of The Power of the Stars: How Celestial Observations Have Shaped Civilization (2010).

In addition to his teaching and research, Penprase has served on a number of Pomona College committees, ranging from the Curriculum, Grievance and Faculty Position Planning Committees to the Outdoor Education Committee, British Fellowship Committee and the Science Library Planning sub-committee. He has been an active member of Project Kaleidoscope, serving as chair of the Southern California Regional Network and as a mentor for the program’s Leadership Institute. He is chair of the NASA California Space Grant Consortium Higher Education Working Group and has been a visiting professor at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore, India and a visiting fellow at Downing College, Cambridge University.