Anne Underhill Astronomy, Astrophysics and Space Science

First Canadian woman astrophysicist

The Story

Now in her 80s and living in Victoria, BC, Anne Underhill continues to actively observe the stars, though no longer in winter. She is one of the first Canadian women to pursue a career in astrophysics. Her life's work has been on the hottest stars, and on the nature and properties of winds from young and old stars. She is one of a rare few who ever combined five decades of fundamental astronomical innovations to understand stars. In over 200 publications Underhill has shown how stars free themselves of the cloak of material which shrouds them as they are born, and how their winds affect star's evolution. A recent paper (ApJ Supplement, 1995) concludes towards the end "My work on Wolf-Rayet stars is now done". The paper itself is part V of a year-long tour-de-force summarizing her ideas which have evolved since her entry in the field in the late 1940's. Underhill has been a visiting lecturer at Harvard and held a major research post at NASA where she helped to develop satellites that observe astronomical objects. Sources: "Trailblazers: Women Talk About Changing Canada"; "Women in Chemistry and Physics"

Career ideas:

  • research scientist, physics
  • research scientist, electronics
  • research scientist, communications
  • research scientist, aerospace
  • research scientist, remote sensing
  • nuclear physicist
  • optics physicist
  • plasma physicist
  • solid state physicist
  • astrophysicist
  • cosmologist
  • experimental physicist

The Person

June 12, 1920
Vancouver, BC
Victoria, BC
Family Members
  • Father: Fredric Clare Underhill, an early European immigrants to Vancouver, BC
  • Mother: Irene Anna Creery
Other Interests
Birding, choir
Honorary Professor
  • BA, UBC (Honours Chem. and Physics), 1942
  • MA (Physics and Math.), UBC, 1944
  • PhD, Chicago, 1948
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 1985
Last Updated
September 16, 2015

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