Dr. William Welsh, Class of 1982

The second member of the Welsh family to be inducted into the Farrell Hall of Fame, Dr. Welsh is  an Associate Professor of Astronomy at San Diego State University.  NASA Kepler Team, Participating Scientist.

He obtained his B.S. degree in physics and astronomy from SUNY Stony Brook and earned his Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1993, doing his thesis research at the Space Telescope Science Institute. He did his post-doctoral work at Keele University in England, then at the University of Texas, where he became a Research Scientist.

His early research was focused on cataclysmic variables and AGN (active galatic nuclei) reverberation mapping, but since becoming a faculty member at San Diego State University in 2000 his work has been primarily on transiting extra-solar planets. His role in the Kepler Mission is to carry out detailed modeling of the short-period planets that Kepler discovers in order to very accurately measure the physical characteristics of the planets and stars, including variations in the times of transits that would indicate the presence of an unseen second planet or moon.

The Kepler Mission, NASA Discovery mission No. 10, is specifically designed to survey a portion of our region of the Milky Way galaxy to discover dozens of Earth-size planets in or near the habitable zone and determine how many of the billions of stars in our galaxy have such planets.  Astronomers announced the discovery of two new two starred planet systems using the Kepler telescope on January 11, 2012, in a paper entitled “Transiting circumbinary planets Kepler-34 b and Kepler-35 b” published in the journal Nature. The discovery was presented by Dr. Welsh at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas.

Dr. Welsh’s brother, Dr. James Welsh ’78, was inducted into the Monsignor Farrell Alumni Hall of Fame with the class of 2011 for his pioneering work in the field of cancer research