Department of Physics and Astronomy recognizes Outstanding Alumni for 2014


Dr. Robert Brunner

Robert Brunner

  • 1990 B.S., Physics, Purdue University
  • 1992 M.S., Physics, Purdue University
  • 1994 M.A., Astrophysics, The Johns Hopkins University
  • 1998 Ph.D., Astrophysics, The Johns Hopkins University

A native of Indiana, Robert Brunner graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Physics in 1990 and an MS in Physics in 1992. He then moved to the Johns Hopkins University to study Observational Cosmology with Professor Alex Szalay. While at Hopkins, Robert led the development of the data archive for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and he helped develop the virtual observatory concept. After completing his Ph.D research on the Statistical Approach to Galaxy Evolution in 1997, Robert moved to the California Institute of Technology where was a postdoctoral scholar in Astronomy working under Professors S. George Djorgovski and Tom Prince. At Caltech, Robert served as Project Scientist for the Digital Sky project working to develop new techniques to federate data from multi-wavelength surveys and visualizations of massive image data sets. He also led the development of data processing and archiving pipelines for the Digitized Palomer Observatory Sky Survey and the Palomar-Quest Survey.

In 2002, Robert moved to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to join the faculty in the Astronomy department and the research staff at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. He led the Illinois effort to join the Large Synoptic Survey project and was one of the founders of the Dark Energy Survey. Robert's research has focused on developing precision cosmological constraints by using large photometric data sets and on quantifying the variability of astrophysical sources to constrain the supermassive black holes that power active galactic nuclei. More recently, Robert has extended his research into the field of data science through the application of statistical and machine learning algorithms to large data. To aid in these new efforts, Robert has recently developed new informatics courses to train students to more effectively work with big data. Robert is also a faculty affiliate in the Computational Science and Engineering program  and in the Beckman Institute, and is currently an Associate at the Center for Advanced Study at Illinois.

Dr. Lynn Young


  • B.S., Physics, Centenary College of Louisiana
  • M.S., Physics, Purdue University
  • Ph.D., Physics, Purdue University

Dr. Lynn Young educates young researchers in the analysis of data from high-throughput biological experiments such as those using next generation sequencing and microarray technologies.  As a bioinformatics scientist in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Library Bioinformatics Support Program, Dr. Young has a variety of roles: tutor, consultant, and collaborator.

She received her Ph.D. in physics from Purdue University where she studied vibrational modes of DNA with Dr. Earl Prohofsky. As a postdoctoral researcher, she worked with Dr. Carol Post of the Purdue Department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacology. This led to a position in field of structure-based drug design at the National Cancer Institute - Frederick Lab.  Next, in the Division of Computational Bioscience at the Center for Information Technology at NIH, she led the development of the genomics component of the National Database for Autism Research (NDAR) and coordinated ontology development for NDAR.

Last Updated: May 4, 2016 4:32 PM