Associate Dean of the College for Science Education
When David Targan came to Brown to study physics as an undergraduate in 1974, he had no idea how inspirational his experience would become. Over Thanksgiving he collected his homemade telescopes and books, and with these materials he helped build a new astronomy program at Brown. Four years later, the night the star he was studying for his senior thesis, WZ-Sge, underwent a rare form of cataclysmic explosion, observatories everywhere except Providence were under thick clouds. Having built and calibrated the specialized instruments required to study such outbursts, he was the first to document this new phenomenon and publish the findings. His enthusiasm for undergraduate research at Brown was born.
Targan attended UCLA and U. Minnesota, where he earned an M.A. and Ph.D. before returning to Brown as a Physics faculty member. His interests in science education led him to the Dean’s Office, where he helped build nationally recognized academic programs, including WiSE and UTRA. He has been PI or Co-I of thirty-four successful grants, totaling more than $25M, for astronomy, undergraduate research, and science education. He currently reviews grants for NSF and NIH.
Prior to attending astrophysics graduate school, and as an avocation since, he has served as a climbing ranger in the National and New Hampshire Park Services. He applied this experience in Alaska, the Andes, and the Himalayas, where he led a high altitude rescue on Mount Everest.