Professor Ian Robson
03 May 2011



Professor Ian Robson


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Ian Robson BSc, Phd, FRAS, CPhys, FInstP.
ROE Fellow
Director UKATC 2005-2012, Director STFC Technology Dept 2009-12
UK Astronomy Technology Centre
Royal Observatory, Edinburgh
Blackford Hill


  • 1969: First class honours in Physics from Queen Mary College, London;
  • PhD in observational cosmology from QMC - making the first observation of the turnover of the 3K cosmic background radiation, showing the Plankian nature of the spectrum;
  • Lecturer at QMC and MSc Astrophysics Course Organiser;
  • 1978: Senior Lectureship at Preston Polytechnic;
  • 1983: Reader in Astrophysics University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN);
  • 1986: Chair in Astrophysics;
  • 1987 - 1992: Head of Department and Director of Observatories UCLAN;
  • 1992 - 2002: Director of the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope and the Joint Astronomy Centre, Hilo, Hawaii;
  • 2005: Honorary Professor University of Edinburgh;
  • 2006: Honorary Fellow University of Central Lancashire;

Research interests

  • submillimetre astronomy
  • active galaxies
  • multifrequency observations of blazars
  • debris disks

Published over 200 papers in astronomy, a textbook on Active Galactic Nuclei, edited four international conference proceedings.

Course organiser and originator of many astronomy and science and society courses (London and UCLAN), supervised 14 PhD and 2 MPhil students.

Member of / chair of numerous SERC/PPARC committees/boards from 1980 - 1992.

President of the International Astronomy Union Commission 55 on "Communicating Astronomy with the Public 2005 - 2008";

IAU working Group on the International Year of Astronomy 2009;

UK lead for IYA2009;

Council Member of the Royal Astronomical Society 2005 - 2008;

Vice President of the Royal Scottish Society for the Arts 2008 - 2011.

President of the Royal Scottish Society for the Arts: 2011-2014.

Vice-President of the Society for Popular Astronomy: 2013-2014.

President of the Society for Popular Astronomy 2014-2016

IAU Office for Astronomical Development: Chair Task Force 3 – Communicating Astronomy with the Public: 2012-2015.

IAU Commission 55: Chair CAP Conference Series.

Talks to the Public

I am willing to give talks to the general public or astronomical societies in the UK on the following topics:

  • Supercool Astronomy
  • Active Galaxies and Supermassive Black Holes
  • Why do we need Telescopes
  • Discovery of Quasars
  • Discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation
  • Confessions of an Astronomer

Further information can be found at: (link opens in a new window)