Brief Bio


Dr. Penprase at Yale-NUS College in 2016

Dr. Bryan Penprase is the Dean of Faculty, undergraduate program, at Soka University of America, in Aliso Viejo California. In this position he supervises the undergraduate academic program and manages the development of the undergraduate curriculum, Learning Clusters, global liberal arts initiatives, and the development of a new Life Science concentration. Bryan was previously a Professor of Science at Yale-NUS College, and prior to that was the Frank P. Brackett Professor of Astronomy at Pomona College. At Yale-NUS College he was the founding Director of the Yale-NUS College Teaching and Learning Center, and advised the Yale-NUS President and Dean of Faculty on policies related to teaching and learning at Yale-NUS College, as well as for the promotion of global liberal arts curriculum.

Bryan received both a BS in Physics and an MS in Applied Physics from Stanford University in 1985, and a PhD from the University of Chicago in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1992. He was a National Research Council NRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech, and has held numerous fellowship and research appointments, including an ASEE fellow at NASA/JPL, a visiting Downing Fellow at Cambridge University and a Visiting Associate appointment at the California Institute of Technology.  Bryan was a professor at Pomona College between 1993 and 2016, and was awarded the Frank P. Brackett Professorship in 2007. At Pomona, he served in numerous leadership roles, including Chair of the Physics and Astronomy Department from 2007 until 2011, member of the Pomona College Executive Committee, chair of the Teaching and Learning Committee, and Division Director for the Pomona College Science Division. During 2012-13, Bryan was awarded an American Council on Education (ACE) fellowship at Yale University, where he advised Yale’s president on STEM education, online learning and diversity initiatives, as well as co-authored the planning document for the Yale-NUS College curriculum. He also served on the Yale Summer Bridge Program Advisory Committee, and developed a conference on “The Future of Liberal Arts in India” at the RRI Bangalore campus in January 2014.  This conference series has continued, with additional meetings in New Delhi in 2015, and in Pune in 2016. In 2016, Bryan was inducted into the National University of Singapore Teaching Academy, which advises the university on matters related to teaching and learning, faculty development and the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.

Bryan’s research includes nearly all aspects of observational astrophysics, from photometric observations of nearby asteroids to spectroscopic studies of element formation in the Early Universe, using telescopes such as the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Telescope in Hawaii. He is the author of “The Power of Stars – How Celestial Observations Have Shaped Civilization,” published by Springer, Inc., and has authored or co-authored over 47 peer-reviewed articles, most recently in the Astrophysical Journal and the Astronomical Journal, but also in Nature and Science. He has served on numerous NSF and NASA review panels,including the Hubble Space Telescope Time Allocation Committee and the NASA/Keck Time Allocation Committee, and has participated in the external review of the Five College Astronomy Program.

Bryan’s courses include interdisciplinary astronomy courses such as the Yale-NUS Core curriculum course Foundations of Science, which enables the Yale-NUS College students explore disciplinary case studies in science in an authentic learning environment that includes active learning and exposure to cutting-edge science. He as developed courses such as “Archaeoastronomy and World Cosmology,” and “Earth’s Cosmic Origins,” which blend astronomy, anthropology, environmental science, history and geology. He also has taught across the entire curriculum of physics, and astronomy and astrophysics, and is writing a book on STEM education scheduled to be published by Stylus Books in 2017.

Dr. Penprase at the Mauna Kea observatory.

A slightly younger Dr. Penprase at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory (CTIO), Chile.

Bryan is married to Bidushi Bhattacharya, and has two daughters, Shanti (a recent graduate of Carleton College) and Asha (who is soon to attend Carleton!). He is an avid outdoorsman, and loves bicycling, swimming, kayaking and backpacking, as well as SCUBA diving.

Books and Book Chapters:
Penprase, B.E., “The Power of Stars – How Celestial Observations Have Shaped Civilization,” published by Springer Verlag (trade title; released October 2010; second edition now available – May 2017). Link to Amazon site for the book –
Co-author of the Yale-NUS College curriculum report, which gives a rationale for the common curriculum and describes the benefits of the new residential liberal arts college in Asia. The report is available here.

CV.bpenprase.7.7.17.admin – Current full academic C.V. with formal (concise) listing of work. – link to short biographical sketch (administrative)– link to short biographical sketch (research)

LinkedIn page for Bryan Penprase