Astrophysicist’s scientific interests had few boundaries

The Richard D. Schwartz Observatory, named after the longtime UMSL astrophysicist, is on the university's South Campus. A commentary on global warming by Schwartz was recently published.

For most of his long career, Richard D. Schwartz had his head in the stars. And thousands of people benefited from that devotion.

When Schwartz arrived at the University of Missouri–St. Louis in 1975, he was the only astronomer. He built the astronomy program and initiated the bachelor’s degree in physics with an astrophysics option. Many of his students went on to achieve distinction at major universities. He earned an international reputation as an astrophysicist with his research on young stars. Closer to home, he designed and oversaw construction of the campus observatory that bears his name. He opened its doors to his students for research and to the public attracting families from all over the region with monthly programs on the moon, stars and planets.

Schwartz, professor emeritus of astronomy at UMSL, died in July of 2011 after a long battle with cancer, but not before he had submitted a commentary on global warming to the Geological Society of America Today. His colleague, Bruce Wilking, called the commentary “characteristic of his (Schwartz’s) broad scientific interests.”

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