Alma C. Zook

Professor of Physics
With Pomona Since: 1982
  • Expertise


    Alma Zook’s primary field of research deals with blazars, essentially a very active subgroup of quasars. (Quasars are very distant, very energetic objects thought to be powered by large black holes at the centers of young galaxies.) Her current research involves monitoring blazars in the optical spectrum with Pomona’s one-meter telescope at the Table Mountain Observatory near Wrightwood, both to catch the early onset of flaring activity and to study microvariability in these objects, with the eventual goal of determining physical conditions such as magnetic field strength, electron energy, and electron density in the radiation-producing regions of these objects.

    As a concert-level musician—she plays oboe and English horn in both the Pomona College Symphony Orchestra and the Pomona College Concert Band—Zook is also keenly interested in the physics of music, studying the physical nature of "good" musical tone quality in wind instruments.

    Research Interests

    • Blazars
    • The physical nature of "good" musical tone quality in wind instruments

    Areas of Expertise

    • Acoustics
    • Astronomy 
    • Blazars
    • Multiwavelength Studies
    • Musical Acoustics
    • Woodwinds
    • Quasars
    • Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI)
  • Work


    With K.J. Meech, et al., [~ 200-name author list, including R. Paterno-Mahler Pomona '07, G. Stecklein '08], "Deep Impact: Observations from a Worldwide Earth-Based Campaign," Science, 265-270, October 14, 2005

    With A. Clower (Pomona ’00), J.P. Koulakis (’06), M.L. Maier (’05), and E.M. Scire (’04), "VRI blazar monitoring at the Table Mountain Observatory," Bull. AAS 36, No. 5, 1600, 2005

    "Star-gazing at Mansfield Park," Persuasions (Journal of the Jane Austen Society of North America), 8, 29, 1986

    With S. Terebey and A.E. Wehrle, "Infrared Space Observatory Observations of Gamma Ray Blazars," Bull. AAS, American Astronomical Society Meeting 201, #114.13, 2003

    With B.G. Piner, S.C. Unwin, A.E. Wehrle, C.M. Urry, and D.M. Gilmore, "The Speed and Orientation of the Parsec-Scale Jet in 3C 279," Astrophysical Journal, 588, 716, 2003

    With A.E. Wehrle, B.G. Piner, S.C. Unwin, W. Xu, A. P. Marscher, H. Tersranta, and E. Valtaoja, "Kinematics of the Parsec-Scale Relativistic Jet in Quasar 3C 279: 1991-1997," Astrophysical Journal Supplement, 133,297, 2001

    "Moving the Earth, Shaping the Sky," Pomona Today, Winter 1985

  • Education


    University of California, Berkeley

    Bachelor of Arts
    Pomona College

    Recent Courses Taught

    • General Physics with Lab
    • Physics Independent Research
    • General Physics
    • Mechanics
    • The Physics of Music
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    NASA, Research Grant NAG 5-2887, Multi-Wavelength Blazar Studies, 1995

    Pomona College, Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship, 1995

    Edison, Summer Research Fellowship, 1994

    Pew Foundation, Faculty Award for Collaborative Curriculum Development, with Professor Stuart Elliott of Occidental College, 1990

    Ford Foundation, College Internship Program Grant, 1990

    Hughes Medical Sciences, summer research grants, 1990 & 1991