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Gerald J. Fishman

gerald fishman, gerald fishman obituary
Gerald Jay Jerry Fishman born February 10, 1943 is an American research astrophysicist, specializing in gamma-ray astronomy His research interests also include space and nuclear instrumentation and radiation in space A native of St Louis, Missouri, Fishman obtained a BS with Honors degree in Physics from the University of Missouri in 1965, followed by MS and PhD degrees in Space Science from Rice University in 1968 and 1970, respectively


  • 1 Career
  • 2 Recognitions and awards
  • 3 Publications and citations
  • 4 Personal
  • 5 References


While in graduate school at Rice University in Houston, Texas, Fishman served as a Research Assistant/Research Associate in the Space Science Department He was involved in balloon-borne observations of high-energy radiation from space, and the research group was the first to detect gamma-rays originating from the Crab Nebula[1] Further observations showed that a large fraction of this radiation was from the pulsar in this nebula[2]

In 1969, Fishman began his professional career as a Senior Scientist working on aerospace projects at the Research Laboratories of Teledyne Brown Engineering in Huntsville, Alabama This research operation had been instigated by Milton K Cummings, for whom the Cummings Research Park, the second largest in America, was named

Fishman joined NASA at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville as a Research Scientist in 1974 From the start, he worked in high-energy astrophysics, and his interest soon centered on gamma-ray astronomy Gamma-rays are generated by celestial events including supernova explosions, creation of black holes, destruction of positrons, and radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus of matter in space Therefore, the detection and analysis of gamma-rays provide an insight on the fundamental nature of the universe

During 1978-79, Fishman took an assignment with NASA Headquarters as a Staff Scientist in the Astrophysics Division of the Office of Space Science Upon returning to MSFC, he continued his work in gamma-ray astronomy He was the Principal Investigator of the Burst and Transient Source Experiment BATSE[3] on the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory CGRO This observatory was the second after Hubble of NASA’s four Great Observatories in space[4] After 14 years in development, CGRO was launched by the Space Shuttle Atlantis in April 1991 STS-37 When one of the gyroscopes on CGRO failed, NASA decided that a controlled crash into the Pacific Ocean was preferable to letting the craft come down on its own at random; it was then intentionally de-orbited in June 2000

The primary objective of the BATSE experiment was the study of gamma-ray bursts The BATSE experiment also serendipitously discovered terrestrial gamma-ray flashes above thunderstorms[5] The Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Team at the National Space Science and Technology Center in Huntsville continues to examine date from BATSE[6] Fishman is currently a Co-Investigator of the Gamma-ray Burst Monitor GBM on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, launched in 2008 The 2011 Shaw Prize – commonly called the Asian Nobel Prize – was shared by Fishman and Italian astronomer Enrico Costa for their gamma-ray research[7][8]

Recognitions and awards

  • NASA Medal for Outstanding Scientific Achievement – 1982, 1991, 1992
  • Alan Berman Research Publications Award – Naval Research Laboratory - 1992
  • Sigma Xi Research Scientist of the Year, Huntsville – 1993
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, Univ of Missouri – 1994
  • Bruno Rossi Prize, High Energy Astrophysics Division, AAS - 1994
  • Fellow - American Physical Society – 1995
  • Institute for Scientific Information, Highly Cited Scientist top 1% – 2001
  • NASA Exceptional Service Medal – 2011
  • The Shaw Prize in Astronomy – 2011

Publications and citations

As of July 2011, Gerald J Fishman had over 900 publications, including encyclopedia articles, published proceedings, published abstracts, reports, and patents, as compiled by SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data Systems[9] Of these, 249 are referred published articles and 138 published articles as first author: There are about 13,000 citations of published articles, including 11,200 citations of referred published articles


Gerald J Fishman was born and raised in St Louis, Missouri, the son of Irwin and Minnie Fishman His grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe He married Nancy Neyman in 1967; they have two daughters, Lisa and Jodi, and three granddaughters, Morgan, Leah, and Ella


  1. ^ Haymes, R C; Ellis, D V; Fishman, G J; Kurfess, J D; Tucker, W H; “Observation of Gamma Radiation from the Crab Nebula,” Astrophysical Journal, vol 151, pL9, Jan, 1968
  2. ^ Fishman, G J; Harnden, F R, Jr; Haymes, R C; “Observation of Pulsed Hard X-Radiation from NP 0532 from 1967 Data,” Astrophysical Journal, vol 156, pL107, June 1969
  3. ^ ”Burst and Transient Source Experiment, NASA”; "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2006-07-15 Retrieved 2006-07-15 
  4. ^ ”NASA’s Great Observatories”; http://wwwnasagov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_NASA_Great_Observatories_PShtml
  5. ^ Fishman, G J, et al; “Discovery of Intense Flashes of Gamma Rays of Atmospheric Origin”, Science, vol 264, pp 1313-1316, 27 May 1994
  6. ^ "The Gamma-Ray Astronomy Team Home Page”; "Archived copy" Archived from the original on 2011-11-08 Retrieved 2011-11-13 
  7. ^ Roop, Lee; "Gamma rays lead to glory," The Huntsville Times, June 16, 2011, p 1
  8. ^ “Rice alum at NASA shares $1 million science prize,” Rice Univ News 6/10/2011; http://wwwmediariceedu/media/NewsBotaspMODE=VIEW&ID=15869
  9. ^ "The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System"; http://adsabsharvardedu/abstract_servicehtml

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