Debra Meloy Elmegreen


Dr. Elmegreen is the Maria Mitchell Professor of Astronomy in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. She has been a member of the faculty since 1985.

Her research interests include structure, interactions, and star formation in galaxies in the local universe and at high redshift. She observes in optical, near-infrared, and radio wavelengths. Her research often involves undergraduates, through URSI (Undergraduate Research Summer Institute) and KNAC (Keck Northeast Astronomy Consortium).

Dr. Elmegreen is past president of the American Astronomical Society, the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. She served as President from June 2010-June 2012. As president-elect, she was invited to celebrate the International Year of Astronomy at the Vatican Observatory in Oct. 2009, including a visit with Pope Benedict XVI:papal visit papal visit2

Dr. Elmegreen was appointed by the National Academies to serve on the Decadal Survey Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, whose goal is to set national astronomy priorities for the next decade. The recommendations became public August 13, 2010 at a webcast at the Keck Center of the National Academies in Washington, DC. She was Vice-Chair of the National Academies’ Board of Physics and Astronomy and now serves as Vice-Chair on the Board of Directors of AURA. She was inducted as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Feb. 2012. She testified on behalf of the AAS to the House Appropriations subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on March 11, 2011 and on March 22, 2012.

Dr. Elmegreen chaired the National Academies study on Optimizing the U.S. ground-based Optical and Infrared Astronomy System which became public in April 2015.


Professor of Astronomy on the Maria Mitchell Chair, Vassar College


Page first done August 1999 by Lauren Elmegreen, revised July 2015