Fondly Remembered: Professor Harvey B. Richer

November 22, 2023
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Harvey in his office.

It is with immense sadness that we announce the passing of our long-time friend and colleague, Professor Harvey Richer, on November 13th, 2023.  He was a cherished member of the Department known for his humour, kindness and generosity.

Harvey received his PhD from the University of Rochester, and immediately joined UBC as part of the UBC Geophysics and Astronomy Department in 1970.  During a University reorganization in 1996, Astronomy joined with Physics to create our current Physics and Astronomy Department, where he had been a keystone member ever since.

Harvey was a leader in the field of stellar astronomy, garnering numerous awards and research time to explore galaxy formation and the evolution of stellar systems on the twin Gemini Telescopes, the Canada France Hawaii Telescope, the Hubble space Telescope (HST) and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Harvey was one of the largest Canadian users of the HST, for which time blocks are globally competitive and exceptionally limited.

Harvey had a great impact on the Department. Many will remember the commemorative symposium in honour of his 75th birthday, "A Richer Universe", held at the Peter Wall Institute in May 2019. Highlighting research relevant to Harvey’s interests, sessions focused on globular clusters, stellar populations and white dwarfs, as well as a couple of talks on another of Harvey’s active pursuits: numismatics, or coin collecting.  

As a colleague, he was generous with his time and support. One faculty member who was assigned to him as a new faculty mentee in 2002, remarked that his mentoring and friendship had continued to this day. Staff and students remember his excitement and collaboration with outreach events and departmental activities.

As a renown researcher, Harvey was generous to the field. As former Director of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA), Harvey established a medal for Early Career Research in Astronomy in 2016 through a personal donation. The Richer Medal is available to Canadian Astronomers (or astronomers working in Canada), in recognition of “significant and sustained early career research in astronomy”.

Harvey is already significantly missed in the Department, but his generosity lives on: Harvey and his family have set up a Professor Harvey B Richer Astronomy Development Fund, which will receive donations towards a new observatory to be situated on the roof of the Hebb Building on the centre of the UBC campus.

We thank you Harvey for all that you've given to the Department and to your colleagues. 

-    The Department of Physics & Astronomy

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