Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Astrophysicist Keith Ashman

Let's say you got a B in an exam and felt you deserved an A and wished to see if you could "consult" with your professor to see if you could 'turn' it. Wot do you think your odds would be with Professor "Keith", above? 

Out of a population of 7 billion people on Earth, there are roughly 6 million Scientists, roughly one out of a thousand people. Since Americans are 4-5 % of the human race, do I have to do the math or can you do that for yourself? Actually the percentage of American scientists is far more in my opinion, twice more than statistics would allow I think. Thoughts?

Whatever ... here's one of them, a man of accomplishment

From Wikipedia:

Keith M. Ashman
, (born 13 December 1963) is a British theoretical astrophysicist, educated at St. Albans SchoolHertfordshire, and Queen Mary College (Bachelor's), University of London (PhD). He was a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City,[1] and has worked as a professor at the University of Kansas, and Baker University. He is the coauthor with Stephen E. Zepf of Globular Cluster Systems and was one of three scientists (the others being François Schweizer and Steve Zepf) to suggest the formation of young globular clusters by colliding spirals might explain the large number of globular clusters present in elliptical galaxies. This was later supported by the findings of the Hubble Space Telescope. He is also the author of "After the Science Wars," a text on the philosophy of science, and is a bass guitarist in the Lawrence, KS based band "The Hefners."
December 2007 Ashman left his tenureship at University of Missouri-Kansas City in order to pursue a career as a professional poker player.


  1. ^ Blackwood, Kendrick (2003) "The Big Bang", The Pitch, 11 December 2003, retrieved 2011-07-08

[edit]External links


Steven Colyer said...

I can't say given the current state of American academia that leaving the profession is a bad choice, at all.

Jennifer Nielsen said...

Ack. Trying to edit, not delete. Anyhoo.

This must be Steve's cunning ploy to get me to actually comment here. (I'm Jenny by the way, I'm doing a PhD in physics at KU, and I run a ragtag "think tank" of bloggers, scientists, fans and wannabe's on facebook).

This guy was my mentor / friend throughout most of my undergrad experience at UMKC. He has influenced at least dozons of others.

In re: StevO's comment on the state of American academia: Gotta admit when Doc left it made me think twice about my own (at first somewhat tentative--my interests are broad) choice of profession. But my love of science won out. People with real passion about scientific foundations and progress help drive the system to be better. It's tough being an educator at the college level in liberal arts America because kids coming in often are weak on topics we "should" have learned in high school.

I was home schooled and completed my mathematical education through calculus I by tenth grade. By the time I got to college I was rusty on everything. My advisers were initially quite skeptical I would be able to catch up (I landed myself in precalculus rather than calculus my first semester I declared myself a physics major) but because I had passion and a strong foundation I was able to review and participate fully.

Despite the fact he has retired "young", Keith put in a very full career and has continued his scientific influence via contacts with friends and pseudofamily in the field (like me). He would probably start guffawing or throw up his hands, but I really think that in order for American education to work we need more people like him who are willing to talk to students one on one and provide offbeat, individualized, Socratic method style guidance--not just in the college years but especially earlier on, in grade school and high school.

I was a bratty and spoiled student who would refuse to learn things I found useless throughout grade school. I was home schooled and my parents were willing to help me track down interesting methods of approaching topics I disliked. One of these topics, actually, was math. Just how effective individaulized instuction can be is demonstrated by the fact that I would later choose to pursue a career in math and physics.

Steven Colyer said...

"People with real passion about scientific foundations and progress help drive the system to be better."

... J.L. Nielsen

Highly quotable.

What Jennifer Nielsen is leaving out is her own considerable accomplishments to date, not the least of which is winning the highly competitive Chambliss Prize in Astrophysics in 2011, between her undergrad and grad school years, while conducting considerable astrophysical research at Daniel McIntosh-UMKC at which she produced 2 papers, and another to come soon, yes, Jenny?

But back to Prof. Ashman. Keith is following his own path. He achieved tenure, and I'm not sure what else he has to prove other than Department Head, and when you you come down to it, who wants THAT crappy job. Is it worth it? Is it?

No Jenny, I am not cunning at all. I can be, but not here. Keith is simply an accomplished scientist, and I present him here as nothing more than an example of same.

Not all those who achieved the hard-worked and dedicated title of PhD will accomplish something significant.

Indeed, Lee Smolin has pegged those who do so at no greater than 50%. But Keith has, that is why I choose to celebrate him, not .... cunning.

As far as YOU go Jenny, you know me and how HORRIBLE I consider the American Public Education System, and how WONderful your being home-schooled by your wonderful parents SPARED you from said system's horrors.

I love your conclusion, that NOT being sucked into the system led you you to Math and Physics.

By all means, tell us more, thanks in advance.

Ulla said...

Nice to meet, Mr Ashman :)

Steven Colyer said...

That would be DokTOR ProfesSOR Ashman, Mrs. Mattfolk, thank you kindly. ;-)

Ulla said...

Sorry, I did not mean to be mean. I prefer the people, the human being, more than a title, but I also appreciate the effort behind a title, because it tells something about the human. That's why I used Mr. Even the President is a Mr. :)I cannot say I know this Keith so well, but what I have seen tells me he has guts, which I appreciate much. A human must know what she wants, and to leave a professors vacancy tells that Keith knows that. At least what de does NOT accept.

But the styling? He reminds me of another guy :) This is absolutely no bad critique, rather the opposite.

Steven Colyer said...

Well said, Ulla. Yes, he has a lot of guts.

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Guy said...

I'd quite like to track Keith down if anyone has an email address. I was at school with him - he was known as "Flagpole" for reasons the photos indicate have not changed in the decades since!

Jennifer Nielsen said...

Guy -- Keith is Feline9ine.blogspot.com and his facebook is linkable from there.

My facebook is www.facebook.com/JennyLN and you can PM me there, also, and I can give you an email.