Dr. Chris Clemens is a stellar astrophysicist with a B.S. in astrophysics from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. He came to UNC in 1998 after completing a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship at Iowa State University and a Sherman Fairchild Prize Postdoctoral Fellowship at Caltech.

Clemens studies compact remnants known as white dwarf stars, the objects that form when ordinary stars like our sun run out of fuel and shrink to the size of the Earth. His recent projects include seismology of oscillating white dwarf stars and the study of exoplanetary rubble that forms around white dwarfs when asteroids, comets or planets are broken up by high gravity. He also builds spectrographs and spectrograph components for observatories around the world.

He has authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers, holds four patents and is principal investigator of two major National Science Foundation grants. He is also a faculty member of the Program in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, for which he designed and taught the course “Medieval Foundations of Modern Cosmology.”

While on the faculty at Carolina, Clemens has been recognized with the Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement and the Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring. He is also an entrepreneur who has co-founded two startup companies. The first of these, MegaWatt Solar, Inc., developed concentrating photovoltaic technology, and Clemens served as Chief Technical Officer from 2007 to 2009. The second company, Syzygy Optics, LLC, develops large diffraction gratings for astronomical instruments. Before becoming senior associate dean, Clemens served as chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UNC for four years.

In his current role, Clemens oversees the departments/curricula in: applied physical sciences, biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer science, environment and ecology, exercise and sport science, geological sciences, marine sciences, mathematical decision sciences, mathematics, physics and astronomy, psychology and neuroscience, and statistics and operations research, as well as the Chancellors Science Scholars program.

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