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Prof Helene R Dickel Phd

Professor Emerita of Astronomy

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Dr. Hélène R. Dickel received her A.B. in mathematics from Mount Holyoke College in 1959 and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan in 1964. She is currently an Emerita Research Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois and an Adjunct Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of New Mexico. She co-discovered the first formaldehyde maser in 1979 and is a pioneer in radio molecular spectroscopy using radio aperture synthesis techniques, including making some of the first images of molecular distributions with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, the Very Large Array of Radio Telescopes of the NationalRadio Astronomy Observatory, and the millimeter array of the Berkeley-Illinois-Maryland Association for which she was the BIMA Schedulerfrom 1994 through 1998.

Prof. Dickel is the author of over 100 publications. Recent research includes radiative transfer modeling of star-forming regions.

She and her astronomer husband, John, were "Faculty Friends" to the undergraduates living in the Snyder residence hall at the University of Illinois since 1994 (and with the FF program since 1989). For twenty years they hosted "January term" student interns in astronomy from Mt. Holyoke, Wheaton, Oberlin, and Carroll Colleges.

Interests outside of astronomy include ice dance (became a USFSA silver ice dancer in 2002), cross-country skiing (when there is snow!), canoeing, hiking, and church choir. They retired to Albuquerque, NM in June 2005.

Prof. Dickel has held Visiting positions at the Division of Radiophysics in Sydney, Australia (1970-71), Sterrewacht te Leiden, the Netherlands (1977-79), Earth and Space Sciences Division of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico (1985-86) and more recently at the Australia Telescope National Facility in Sydney, Australia (1992-93). While on sabbatical during 1999-2000 at the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy in Dwingeloo, Prof. Dickelheld a Visiting Professor appointment (1 day/week) at the Astronomical Instituteof the University of Amsterdam. She retired in 2001 and is now an Emerita Research Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois and became an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico in 2005 where she is working on theirLong Wavelength Array project.

She is a member of a number of professional societiesincluding the International Scientific Radio Union, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Association for Women in Science. She was chair of the Nominating Committee of the American Astronomical Society in 1992. She has been a member of the scientific organizing committee of Commission 40 on Radio Astronomy of the International Astronomical Union. Prof. Dickel was President of the IAU Comission 5 Working Group [on Astronomical] Designations from 1997 - 2003. Dr. Dickel was a Tour Speaker for the American Chemical Society (1986-2008)and a Shapley Visiting Lecturer for the American Astronomical Society (1982-2007. She still gives occasional lectures to the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Xi, among other groups.


  • My primary interest is in the physical conditions and evolution of dense cores of giant molecular clouds from which massive stars form and in the subsequent interactions of these newly-formed stars and attendant HII regions on the remaining molecular gas. Molecular emission from these regions is studied via radio observations coupled with a non-LTE, multi-level radiative transfer code. I am currently involved at U. NM in the development of the Long Wavelength Array.

Research Description

See specializations/Research Interests above.


  • AB Mt. Holyoke College 1959; PhD University of Michigan 1964


  • Co-Principal Investigator of BIMA NSF grants (1991-2001) Principal Investigator of NSF grants (1972-1980,1991-94) Principal Investigator of U. of I. Research Board Grant (summer 1981) Principal Collaborator on NATO Research Grant (1980-83) Principal Investigator of International NSF Grant (1985-86) Principal Investigator of AAS Small Research Grant (1982-85,1990)


Journal Articles

  • Friedal, D N., and et al. et al.. "BIMA Array Detections of HCN in Comets LINEAR (C/2002 T7) and NEAT (C/2001 Q4)." ApJ 630 (2005): 623-630.
  • Williams, John A., Hélène R. Dickel, and Lawrence H. Auer. "W 49 A North - Global, Local, or No Collapse,." ApJS 153 (2004): 463-499.

Newspaper Articles

  • Dickel, Hélène R., and Working G. Designations. "From Confusion to Clarity." IAU Daily Newspaper "Nuncius Sidereus" (XXVI IAU General Assembly. [Prague] 21 Aug. 2006.

Magazine Articles

  • Dickel, Hélène R., Y M. Pihistrom, T L. Gaussiran, P A. Henning, A Kerkhoff, W Junor, N E. Kassim, and G B. Taylor. "The Long Wavelength Array (LWA): A Multi-Disciplinary Educational Opportunity." IAU JD..12E... 21 Aug. 2006: 59.