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Timothy Beers

BS ’79, Physics and Metallurgical Engineering, Purdue University
MA ’80, Astronomy, Harvard University
PhD ’83, Astronomy, Harvard University

"Purdue helped me gain the intellectual rigor required to succeed at the very highest levels of academic research."

For more than 30 years, Timothy Beers designed and executed large-scale surveys to discover and analyze the very first generations of stars born in the galaxy and universe. These stars provide the basis for understanding the creation and evolution of all of the elements in the Periodic Table heavier than helium, including the fundamental elements required for life — carbon, nitrogen and oxygen — as we know it. They are also used to elucidate the assembly and evolution of the stellar populations in the Milky Way. In the process, he helped establish a new field of study, Galactic Archaeology, which now involves hundreds of researchers around the world.

The academic side to Beers' career has two homes: Michigan State University and University of Notre Dame. He is the chairman of astrophysics at Notre Dame and a distinguished professor of astronomy at Michigan State. He has worked with some of the planet's most powerful telescopes: Hubble, Hobby-Eberly, Keck and dozens more. He has published hundreds of papers detailing his findings from the cosmos.

This work has earned Beers a treasure trove of honors, awards and fellowships from American Physical Society, American Astronomical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, International Astronomical Union and Joint Institute for Nuclear Astrophysics, just to name a few.

Beers grew up in Lafayette "with Purdue in (his) blood" as his brothers attended Purdue and his father was a professor.

"Although Purdue did not have an undergraduate major in astronomy at the time I attended," he said, "I came to understand that my preparation in numerous technical subjects had prepared me well for a career in astronomy and astrophysics."


  • 2016 - Named fellow of American Physical Society
  • 2015 - Recognized as Thomson-Reuters Highly Cited Author for third time
  • 2014 - Became chaired professor of astrophysics at University of Notre Dame
  • 2009 - Named university distinguished professor at Michigan State University

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