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Ulysses J. Sofia

Associate Dean of Research and Department Chair, Computer Science
Department of Physics

  • Degrees

    PhD, Astronomy with a concentration in Physics, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    BA, Astronomy with High Honors, Wesleyan University
  • OFFICE

  • CAS - Physics
  • Battelle Tompkins - 257
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  • FOR THE MEDIA

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Partnerships & Affiliations

  • American Astronomical Society

    Member since 1985

  • Sigma Xi

    Member since 1988

  • American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences

    Member since 1994

  • Astronomical Society of the Pacific

    Member since 1996

  • Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science

    Member since 1997

  • International Astronomical Union

    Member since 2000

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Honors, Awards, and Fellowships

  • William and Diana Deshler Endowed Chair, Whitman College
  • Lange Award for distinguished science teaching, Whitman College
  • Garrett Fellow of Whitman College
  • DARA (German Space Agency) ASTRO-SPAS Award for contributions to the ORFEUS-SPAS II Space Shuttle mission
  • National Research Council Fellow at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
  • NASA certificate of recognition for contributions to the Hubble Space Telescope project
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center certificate of recognition for contributions to the Hubble Space Telescope project
  • NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph Group Achievement Award
  • NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellow

Professional Presentations

Invited Talks
  • July 2008 – The Cosmic Odyssey of Elements in Aegina, Greece, “Galactic Interstellar Abundances”
  • July 2008 – American Astronomical Society Special Session on Laboratory Astrophysics, “Dust in the Diffuse Neutral Interstellar Medium”
  • July 2006 – Asia Oceania Geosciences Society in Singapore, “Insights into Dust Composition from Interstellar Gas Abundances”
  • May 2003 – International Conference on the Astrophysics of Dust “Interstellar Abundances and Depletions”, ASP Conference Series Volume 309, eds. A. N. Witt, G. C. Clayton and B. T. Draine, 393-414 (refereed contribution)
  • March 2002 – Villanova University’s Jason A. Cardelli Prize Lecture “Recent Breakthroughs in the Study of Dust”
  • June 1998 - The American Astronomical Society special session on Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopy. “Far Ultraviolet Observations of the Neutral ISM”, BAAS
  • August 1997 - The International Astronomical Union Joint Discussion 1 of the General Assembly in Kyoto, Japan, “Abundances in the Gaseous Galactic Halo”, Highlights of Astronomy, 11B, 86-87 (refereed contribution)
  • June 1996 - The Annual Meeting of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, From Stardust to Planetesimals, ASP Proceedings series, "Interstellar Depletions and Dust”, 122, 77-86 (refereed contribution)

Grants and Sponsored Research

  • Principal Investigator for the cycle 17 Hubble Space Telescope (HST) program “Determining the Phase of Carbon in the Interstellar Medium”***
  • Principal Investigator for the cycle 15 HST program “Relating Extinction to Specific Grain Types in Individual Sight Lines”**
  • Co-investigator for cycle 14 HST Archival program " Digging for Interstellar Rare Elements in Archival UV Spectra " Principal Investigator: Stefan Cartledge (Louisiana State University)**
  • Co-investigator for the cycle 13 HST Guest Observer program “Prospecting for Rare Elements in the Interstellar Medium” Principal investigator: James Lauroesch (Northwestern University)*
  • Co-investigator for the NASA Astrophysics Data Program “Far Ultraviolet Extinction: Unique insights into the Nature and Role of Small Dust Grains” Principal investigator: Geoff Clayton (Louisiana State University)*
  • Principal investigator for the cycle 11 HST Guest Observer program “The Cosmic Carbon Budget”*
  • Co-investigator for the cycle 11 HST Guest Observer program “Probing the Grains Responsible for Extinction Using Small Magellanic Cloud Sightlines” Principal investigator: Karl Gordon (University of Arizona)*
  • Co-investigator for the NASA Exobiology program “Enantiomeric Excesses in the Early Solar System: Investigating the Role of Circularly-Polarized Radiation” Principal investigator: Doug Whittet (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)*
  • Co-investigator for the cycle 2 NASA/FUSE program “Far Ultraviolet Interstellar Extinction in the Large Magellanic Cloud” Principal investigator: Geoffrey Clayton (Louisiana State University)*
  • Co-investigator for the NASA/Far Ultraviolet Spectrograph Explorer (FUSE) program “Interstellar Extinction in the Far Ultraviolet” Principal investigator: Michael Wolff (Space Science Institute)*
  • Co-investigator for the cycle 8 HST Guest Observer program “The Oxygen Abundance in Translucent Interstellar Clouds “ Principal investigator: David Meyer (Northwestern University)*
  • Co-investigator for the cycle 8 HST Archival program “Further Insights into Interstellar Dust Grains Using Ultraviolet Polarimetry and Spectroscopy “ Principal investigator: Michael Wolff (Space Science Institute)*
  • Co-investigator for the European Southern Observatory program “First Constraint to the Deuterium to Hydrogen Ratio at z=3 from VLT/UVES” Principal investigator: Sebastian Lopez (Univ. de Chile)*
  • Principal investigator for the NASA ORFEUS-SPAS II program “Mission Support and Data Calibrations for the IMAPS Instrument on ORFEUS- SPAS II”*
  • Co-investigator on the cycle 7 HST Guest Observer program "Synoptic Monitoring of Seasonal Phenomena on Mars". Principal investigator: Philip James (University of Toledo)*
  • Principal investigator for the cycle 6 HST Guest Observer program "On the Nature of Dust Mineralogy"*
  • Principal investigator for the cycle 6 HST Archival program "Ozone Abundance in Mars' Atmosphere"*
  • Principal investigator for the cycle 6 HST Guest Observer program "Interstellar Cadmium: Probing Galactic Chemical Evolution"*
  • Principal investigator for the cycle 6 HST Guest Observer program "Interstellar Carbon Abundances in Low Density Gas"*
  • Principal investigator for the NASA Long Term Space Astrophysics Research Program "Physical Properties of Interstellar Gas and Dust"*
  • Co-investigator on the cycle 6 HST Guest Observer program "Interstellar Tin: Probing Galactic s-Process Elemental Enrichment". Principal investigator: David Meyer (Northwestern Univ.)*
  • Co-investigator on the cycle 6 HST Guest Observer program "The 10B/11B Ratio in the Interstellar Medium". Principal investigator: Steve Federman (Univ. of Toledo)*
  • Co-investigator on the cycle 6 HST Guest Observer program "The Abundance of Interstellar Nitrogen". Principal investigator: David Meyer (Northwestern Univ.)*
  • Principal investigator on the cycle 5 HST Guest Observer program "A Study of Gas-Phase Abundance Gradients". *
  • Co-investigator on a cycle 5 HST program "A White Dwarf Probe of Interstellar Deuterium". Principal investigator: Wayne Landsman (Hughes STX Inc.)* 

*  Previously funded grant – work completed

** Current grant

*** Accepted proposal – awaiting observations and funds

**** Currently being reviewed

Professional Services

Services to the Astrophysics Community

  • Referee for the Astrophysical Journal, Astronomy & Astrophysics, and the Journal of Geophysical Research. 
  • Member and Chair of several NASA peer-review panels for time allocation on the FUSE satellite
  • Member of several NASA peer-review panels for time allocation on the EUVE satellite
  • Member of the peer-review panel For NASA’s Small Explorer (SMEX) Program 
  • Member of several peer-review panels for the Hubble Space Telescope
  • Member of several peer-review panels for NASA’s Suborbital (rocket) Program 

Selected Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles    

  • Lauroesch, J. T., Cartledge, S. I. B., Clayton, G. C., Sofia, U. J., & Meyer, D. M. 2008, "The Abundance of Interstellar Cadmium", Astrophysical Journal, submitted
  • Cartledge, S. I. B., Lauroesch, J. T., Meyer, D. M., Sofia, U. J., & Clayton, G. C. 2008, "Interstellar Krypton Abundances: The Detection of Kiloparsec- scale Differences in Galactic Nucleosynthetic History", Astrophysical Journal, in press
  • Cox, N. L. J., Cordiner, M. A., Ehrenfreund, P., Kaper, L., Sarre, P. J., Foing, B. H., Spaans, M., Cami, J., Sofia, U. J., Clayton, G. C., Gordon, K. D., & Salama, F. 2007, "Interstellar Gas, Dust and Diffuse Bands in the Small Magellanic Cloud", Astronomy and Astrophysics, 470, 941
  • Miller, A., Lauroesch, J. T., Sofia, U. J., Cartledge, S. I. B.  & Meyer, D. M. 2007, "Interstellar Iron and Silicon Depletions in Translucent Sight Lines", Astrophysical Journal, 659, 441
  • Cartledge, S. I. B., Lauroesch, J. T., Meyer, D. M., & Sofia, U. J. 2006, “The Homogeneity of Interstellar Elemental Abundances in the Galactic Disk”, Astrophysical Journal, 641, 327-346
  • Sofia, U. J., Gordon, K. D., Clayton, G. C., Misselt, K., Wolff, M. J., Cox, N. L. J. & Ehrenfreund, P. 2006, "Probing the Dust Responsible for Small Magellanic Cloud Extinction", Astrophysical Journal, 636, 753-764
  • Cartledge, S. I. B., Clayton, G. C., Gordon, K. D., Rachford, B., Draine, B. T., Martin, P. G., Mathis, J. S., Sofia, U. J., Whittet, D. C. B. & Wolff, M. J. 2005, "FUSE Measurements of Far Ultraviolet Extinction. II. Magellanic Cloud Sight Lines", Astrophysical Journal, 630, 355-367
  • Sofia, U. J., Wolff, M. J., Rachford, B., Gordon, K. D., Clayton, G. C., Cartledge, S. I. B., Martin, P. G., Draine, B. T., Mathis, J. S., Snow, T. P. & Whittet, D. C. B. 2005, "FUSE Measurements of Far Ultraviolet Extinction. I. Galactic Sight Lines", Astrophysical Journal, 625, 167-180
  • Cartledge, S. I. B., Meyer, D. M., Lauroesch, J. T., & Sofia, U. J. 2004, “The Homogeneity of Interstellar Oxygen in the Galactic Disk”, Astrophysical Journal, 613, 1037-1048
  • Sofia, U. J., Lauroesch, J. T., Meyer, D. M. & Cartledge, S. I. B. 2004, “Interstellar Carbon in Translucent Sightlines”, Astrophysical Journal, 605, 272-277
  • Clayton, G., Wolff, M. J., Sofia, U. J., Gordon, K., Misselt, K. 2003, “Dust Grain-Size Distributions from MRN to MEM”, Astrophysical Journal, 588, 871-880
  • Cartledge, S. I. B., Meyer, D. M., Lauroesch, J. T., & Sofia, U. J. 2001, “STIS Observations of Interstellar Oxygen and Krypton in Translucent Clouds”, Astrophysical Journal, 562, 394-399
  • Sofia, U. J. & Meyer, D. M. 2001, “Interstellar Abundance Standards Revisited”, Astrophysical Journal, 554, L221-L224
  • Meyer, D. M., Lauroesch, J. T., Sofia, U. J., Draine, B. T. & Bertoldi, F. 2001, “The Rich Ultraviolet Spectrum of Vibrationally-Excited Interstellar H2 Toward HD 37903”, Astrophysical Journal, 533, L59-L62
  • Sonneborn, G., Tripp, T. M., Ferlet, R., Jenkins, E. B., Sofia, U. J., Vidal-Madjar, A. & Wozniak, P. R. 2000, “Spatial Variability in the Ratio of Atomic Deuterium to Hydrogen. II. Observations toward ?2 Velorum and ? Puppis by the Interstellar Medium Absorption Profile Spectrograph”, Astrophysical Journal, 545, 277-289
  • Jenkins, E. B., Wozniak, P. R., Sofia, U. J., Sonneborn, G. & Tripp, T. M. 2000, “The Properties of Molecular Hydrogen toward The Orion Belt Stars from Observations by the Interstellar Medium Absorption Profile Spectrograph”, Astrophysical Journal, 538, 275-288
  • Sofia, U. J., Fabian, D. & Howk, J. C. 2000, “An Empirical Test of the Mg II ?1240 Doublet Branching Ratio and Oscillator Strength”, Astrophysical Journal, 531, 384-390
  • Sofia, U. J., Meyer, D. M. & Cardelli, J. A. 1999, “The Abundance of Interstellar Tin and Cadmium”, Astrophysical Journal, 522, L137-L140
  • Jenkins, E. B., Tripp, T. M., Wozniak, P. R., Sofia, U. J. & Sonneborn, G. 1999, “Spatial Variability in the Ratio of Interstellar Atomic Deuterium to Hydrogen. I. Observations toward ? Orionis by the Interstellar Medium Absorption Profile Spectrograph”, Astrophysical Journal, 520, 182-195
  • Sofia, U. J., Fitzpatrick, E. L. & Meyer, D. M. 1998, “A Reanalysis of the Carbon Abundance in the Translucent Cloud toward HD24534”, Astrophysical Journal, 504, L47-L49
  • Sofia, U. J. & Jenkins, E. B. 1998, "Observations of Interstellar Neutral Argon and Implications for Partially Ionized Clouds", Astrophysical Journal, 499, 951-965
  • Lambert, D. L., Sheffer, Y., Federman, S. R., Cardelli, J. A., Sofia, U. J., and Knauth, D. C. 1998,”The 11B/10B Ratio of Local Interstellar Diffuse Clouds” Astrophysical Journal, 494, 614-622
  • Meyer, D. M., Cardelli, J. A. & Sofia, U. J. 1997, “The Abundance of Interstellar Nitrogen”, Astrophysical Journal, 490, L103-L106
  • Sofia, U. J., Cardelli, J. A., Guerin, K. & Meyer, D. M. 1997, "Carbon Abundances in Diffuse Sight Lines", Astrophysical Journal 482, L105- L108
  • Jenkins, E. B., Reale, M. A., Zucchino, P. M. & Sofia, U. J. 1996, "High Resolution Spectroscopy in the Far UV: Observations of the Interstellar Medium by IMAPS on ORFEUS-Spas", Astrophysics and Space Science, 239, 315-360
  • Sofia, U. J., Cardelli, J. A. & Savage, B. D. 1994, "The Abundant Elements in Interstellar Dust", Astrophysical Journal, 430, 650-666
  • Cardelli, J. A, Sofia, U. J., Savage, B. D., Keenan, F. P. & Dufton, P. L. 1994, "Interstellar Detection of the Intersystem Line Si II] ?2335 A? Toward ? Ophiuchi", Astrophysical Journal, 420, L29-L32
  • Sofia, U. J., Savage, B. D. & Cardelli, J. A. 1993, "High Resolution Ultraviolet Observations of the Interstellar Diffuse Clouds Toward ? Columbae", Astrophysical Journal, 413, 251-265
  • Savage, B. D., Cardelli, J. A. & Sofia, U. J. 1992, "Ultraviolet Observations of the Gas Phase Abundances in the Diffuse Clouds Toward ? Ophiuchi at 3.5 km s-1 Resolution", Astrophysical Journal, 401, 706-723
  • Cardelli, J. A., Savage, B. D., Bruhweiler, F. C., Smith, A. M., Ebbets, D. C., Sembach, K. R. & Sofia, U. J. 1991, "First Results from the Goddard High-Resolution Spectrograph: Elemental abundances in the Diffuse Clouds toward ? Persei", Astrophysical Journal, 377, L57-L60
  • Sofia, U. J., Bruhweiler, F. C. & Sofia, S. 1989, "Ultraviolet Variability of the Solar Analog Alpha Centauri A", Journal of Geophysical Research, 94, 9117-9124
  • Bruhweiler, F. C., Kafatos, M. & Sofia, U. J. 1986, "The Unusual Ultraviolet Variability of the QSO 3C 232", Astrophysical Journal, 303, L31-L35

AU Expert

Area of Expertise: Astrophysics, interstellar dust (how interstellar dust of different shapes, sizes, and composition distorts light in varied ways), interstellar medium

Additional Information: Ulysses J. (U. J.) Sofia primarily uses data from the Hubble Space Telescope's ultraviolet spectrometer—an instrument that spreads images of invisible light waves into their component colors—to determine how interstellar dust of different shapes, sizes, and composition distorts light in varied ways. Astronomers use this information to devise ways to control for the dust in their observational data.

He is also working with his father, Yale University astrophysicist Sabatino Sofia, on an international project aimed at measuring the sun's temperature and size over time. These measurements will help determine how much energy the sun is releasing. Of the project's significance Sofia says, "the amount of energy the sun is putting out has a huge effect on our predictions about how fast we think the climate will change due to the carbon dioxide and methane [emissions] associated with global warming."
 

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