Norbert Untersteiner (deceased)
Sydney Chapman Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences
Learning from the greats
The Sydney Chapman Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences gives students and faculty a chance to learn from distinguished researchers who are pioneers in the physical sciences. These researchers organize seminar series, conduct workshops and participate in research.
The Alaska State Legislature created this endowed chair in 1983 to establish a position that would help the UAF achieve an international reputation for excellence in teaching and research.
Because of their accomplishments and reputation, the endowed chairs attract a nucleus of talented faculty and students. They impart knowledge, skills and life lessons that enhance the quality of teaching and research at UAF.
The endowed chair is named after Sydney Chapman (1888-1970), who is considered one of the most distinguished geophysicists of the 20th century. He was professor of geophysics and advisory scientific director of UAF’s Geophysical Institute from 1951-70. He also pioneered research in the magnetosphere.
Since its inception, five distinguished scholars have held the title “Chapman Chair.”
Mentored to mentoring
Sydney Chapman was one of Syun-Ichi Akasofu’s mentors when Akasofu studied the aurora as part of his research while pursuing a Ph.D. from UAF.
Through his research, Akasofu was one of the first to understand that the northern aurora was actually an aurora of light surrounding the North Magnetic Pole. He went on to direct UAF’s Geophysical Institute and then later became the first director of UAF’s International Arctic Research Center. He also became the first Sydney Chapman Endowed Chair in Physical Sciences from 1985 to 1986.
As a tribute to his mentor, Akasofu published the paper, “The Scientific Legacy of Sydney Chapman in August 2011.” Click here to read it.
A note about images: The image in the left sidebar of Syun-Ichi Akasofu is courtesy of IARC. The graphic at the top of the page used artwork from NASA.