Dr. Julie Lutz is an Emeritus Research Professor in the Department of Astronomy. Since childhood, Dr. Lutz has been fascinated by astronomy, and particularly by stars. Despite more than forty years of research, Dr. Lutz appreciates that the field is more complex and dynamic than scientists could ever comprehend. In fact, she has found that her research often leads to more and more questions—not necessarily answers. Dr. Lutz enjoys that such complexities and questions spur greater innovation and creativity as scientists respond to conundrums with new methods and technologies.
Below, Dr. Lutz describes her work in astronomy and how she became interested in the field.
Q&A: Interest in the Stars
Q. What sparked your interest in astronomy?
A. Actually, I was very young when I started to get interested in Astronomy. I lived in Hawaii during the Korean War. Part of it was that there were blackouts so you would really see the stars very well and the skies were just so dark. My dad would take me out and show me the constellations and the stars and everything. I was only six to eight years old at the time. Then I started reading books about astronomy and kept being interested throughout school. So I never really wanted to be anything but an astronomer.
Q. What research are you currently working on?
A. I work on stars, particularly stars that are older than the sun, but kind of like the sun. I am working on the distances to these stars and also the chemical abundances. I use ground-based telescopes from UW to do that. Primarily, I work with undergrads who help me gather information from these telescopes. I am also big on science education. I’m done a lot with NASA as far as science education. I kind of have two prongs to what I do. One being astronomy and the other being science education.