Frank Shu


Frank Shu

Frank Shu (born in Kunming, China), is an astrophysicist, author and professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley and the university president of the National Tsing Hua University.

He completed his BS in physics in 1963 at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While still an undergraduate, he developed (with C. C. Lin) the still-leading theory governing spiral arms in galaxies, known as the spiral density wave theory. He later received his PhD in astronomy in 1968 at Harvard University.

Shu is known for pioneering theoretical work in a diverse set of fields of astrophysics, including the origin of meteorites, the birth and early evolution of stars and the structure of spiral galaxies. One of his most highly-cited works is a 1977 seminal paper describing the collapse of a dense giant molecular cloud core which forms a star. This model (commonly referred to as the ``inside-out" collapse model or the "singular isothermal sphere" model) helped provide the basis for much later work on the formation of stars and planetary systems, although it has been criticized for its shortcomings. Shu has also performed calculations on the structure of planet-forming disks around very young stars, the jets and winds that these stars and their disks generate, and the production of chondrules, inclusions in meteorites. Much of this work has been done in collaboration with his postdocs and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to successful academic careers in their own right.

He served as chair of the astronomy department of UC Berkeley from 1984 until 1988, and has held faculty appointments at the SUNY Stony Brook and UC Berkeley. He was president of the National Tsing Hua University from February 2002 until February 2006. He also is a university professor emeritus at UC Berkeley. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States and the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.

He is the author of several books, among them "Physical Universe: An Introduction to Astronomy" (University Science Books, 1982) which has become one of the standard textbooks for undergraduate astrophysics courses all over the world.


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