Paul S. Hardersen currently serves as an Associate Professor in the Department of
Space Studies at the University of North Dakota. Dr. Hardersen received his PhD
in geology in May 2003 (specialization: asteroid near-IR spectroscopy) from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Before earning his doctorate, Hardersen
received a Master's degree in geology from Rensselaer in December 2001 and dual
degrees (BS in geology; BA in political science) from Iowa State University in 1997.
Dr. Hardersen teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in the department
– the majority which have an astronomical focus and are targeted at boosting student
and departmental capabilities in astronomical research. Undergraduate courses include
SpSt 300 and SpSt 425, while graduate courses include SpSt 524, SpSt 526, and SpSt
528. Topics include rationales for space exploration, observational and advanced
observational astronomy, an introduction to solar physics, Observational Astronomy,
Observational Spectroscopy, Space Environment and the Sun, The Case for Space and
a seminar course that reviews astrobiological research from an astronomical perspective.
Current and future research efforts include asteroid mineralogical studies to better
understand the early solar system heating events, asteroid light curve and rotational
studies, solar chromospheric studies, and measuring intrinsic sunspot rotations
and their associations with solar flares.
The UND Observatory (http://observatory.space.edu)
is another major effort whose goal is to increase the astronomical infrastructure
in North Dakota to advance both astronomical research and educational activities
in the state. Three Internet-controllable telescopes – two 16-inch and one 10-inch
aperture – are available to support diverse projects that include asteroid astrometry
and photometry, variable star photometry, solar H-alpha imaging, and visible-wavelength
stellar spectroscopy. Dr. Hardersen is leading efforts to raise additional funding
to build a fourth observatory with a 24+ inch-aperture telescope. Other activities
include partnering with schools around North Dakota to provide astronomy experiences
to high school students and proposals to teach SpSt 425 to undergraduate students
from around the state.