In February, the American Astronomical Society (AAS) elected Physics Prof. Emeritus Laurence Marschall as one of more than 200 members of the 2020 Class of Legacy AAS Fellows in the first year of the accolade. The AAS, a leading astronomy organization in North America, recognizes fellows for their contributions to astronomy in service, research and publication, and education.
Marschall taught courses in astronomy and physics in the physics department at Gettysburg College for 43 years before retiring in 2014. During that time, he also occasionally instructed courses on philosophy and history of science, as well as science writing.
While at Gettysburg, Marschall created and began working as the principal investigator for the Contemporary Laboratory Experiences in Astronomy (CLEA) project, which provides simulations of astronomical research techniques for students. This project, used in astronomy classes throughout the nation and globally, received funding from the National Science Foundation for 20 years.
“Larry epitomizes the teacher-scholar and the type of work we do in the Gettysburg College physics department—innovative science supported by a strong backbone of liberal arts education,” said Physics Prof. Bret Crawford, who now chairs the department.
An advocate for undergraduate research and publication, Marschall received several grants to support digital imaging research with students.
Marschall directly served the AAS in his role as deputy press officer from 1998 to 2019. In that position, he assisted in running AAS press conferences during national meetings and helped operate a distribution service to send press releases from research institutions and universities to journalists and social media outlets.
“I'm happy to be recognized by the AAS as a legacy fellow,” Marshall said. “Working with the organization has brought me a lot of rewards—the main ones being the contacts and friendships with a wide range of professional astronomers.”
Prior to being honored as a Legacy AAS Fellow, Marschall received two awards for his excellence in education and for his work with Project CLEA, including the AAS Education Prize in 2005 and the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Richard H. Emmons Award in 2014.
In addition to more than 40 papers in professional journals, including some with student co-authors, Marschall has published popular scientific writing in the form of books, articles, and reviews. He served as the editor of the amateur astronomy magazine, CCD Astronomy, published by Sky & Telescope, for four years in the 1990s. From 1984 to 2001, Marschall wrote for The Sciences magazine and has been writing a monthly review column in the magazine Natural History since 2002. Marschall’s popular publications also include three books and reviews for Harper’s Magazine and The New York Times Book Review.
“Larry’s career defines science in the liberal arts,” Crawford said. “His work has encompassed everything from important research on stellar evolution to innovative teaching, including the development of CLEA software used by astronomy programs around the world to outreach and significant popular science writing.”
By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos courtesy of Laurence Marschall