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Anneila Sargent

Anneila Sargent

Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus

By David Zierler
April 6, 2020

In this interview, David Zierler, then Oral Historian for the American Institute of Physics (AIP), interviews Anneila Sargent, Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus at Caltech.

Sargent recounts her childhood in Scotland and the encouragement she received regarding her desire to pursue science as a young woman at the University of Edinburgh. She describes her work at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and her developing interests in astronomy. Sargent recounts meeting her husband to be, Wallace Sargent, who had traveled to Britain following his postdoctoral research. She describes the series of events leading to her graduate work at UCSD and then at Caltech, where she worked with Peter Goldreich. She describes her decision to pause her studies to raise a family, and she explains her involvement with millimeter-wavelength interferometers when she returned to school. Sargent explains her growing expertise in millimeter wave astronomy and how her interests in how massive stars formed molecular clouds formed the basis of her dissertation. She describes the opportunity the department gave her to stay on at Caltech and her work at Owens Valley Radio Observatory and her ascent to the directorship of OVRO. Sargent explains the offers she considered that would have taken her away from Caltech and her consistent decision to stay. She explains her contributions to the ISO Camera steering committee and the Space Science Advisory Committee. Sargent describes her work as director of CARMA, her tenure as vice president for student affairs, and she discusses her recent work since her retirement in 2017.