Professor Frank Shu

Ph. D., Harvard University, 1968

Senior Fellow of Hong Kong Institute for Advanced Study, City University of Hong Kong

Professor Emeritus at the University of California, San Diego

Member of the National Academy of Engineering, USA

Member of the Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Recipient of the Shaw Prize in Astronomy

Professor Frank Shu

Contact Information

Web: Personal Homepage
Professor Frank Shu is a University Professor Emeritus of University of California at Berkeley and San Diego, a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Academia Sinica in Taiwan.

Professor Shu received his BS in Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1963 and his Ph.D. in Astronomy at Harvard University in 1968. After a 5-year stint at the State University of New York, Stony Brook, he joined the faculty of University of California at Berkeley, and served as Chair of the Astronomy Department from 1984 until 1988. He was appointed as University Professor in 1998, an honor bestowed on only 35 faculty members in the UC system since its founding. From 2002 to 2006 he served as President of National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan. He then joined the faculty of the Physics Department at the University of California at San Diego. In 2009 he retired as University Professor and accepted a position as a member of the Science and Technology Advisory Group and Advisor on Energy to the Premier of Taiwan. He also Chairs the Advisory Committee of the Green Energy Laboratory of the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and is a member of ITRI's Advanced Research Advisory Committee. Since 2009, he has devoted all his efforts at Academia Sinica and at ITRI to developing alternative sources of energy to replace the burning of fossil fuels in response to the growing crisis of global climate change. In his personal research on molten salt technologies with applications to nuclear energy, biofuels, and municipal waste management, he has active collaborations with academic research groups at UC Berkeley, the University of Michigan, and the Ohio State University. In addition to ITRI, his industrial partners include Taiwan Power Company, the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the Welantech Int'l Ltd, Taiwan, and SGL Carbon LLC, in St. Marys, Pennsylvania.

Research Statement

Shu is known for pioneering theoretical work in a diverse set of fields of astrophysics, including the origin of meteorites, the birth and early evolution of stars and the structure of spiral galaxies. One of his most highly-cited works is a 1977 seminal paper[2] describing the collapse of a dense giant molecular cloud core which forms a star. This model (commonly referred to as the "inside-out" collapse model or the "singular isothermal sphere" model) helped provide the basis for much later work on the formation of stars and planetary systems, although it has been criticized for its shortcomings. Shu has also performed calculations on the structure of planet-forming disks around very young stars, the jets and winds that these stars and their disks generate, and the production of chondrules, inclusions in meteorites. Much of this work has been done in collaboration with his postdocs and graduate students, many of whom have gone on to successful academic careers in their own right.

Honors and Awards

  • Centennial Medal, Harvard University, 2008 - Caroline Herschel Lecturer, Space Telescope Science Institute 2007.
  • Ta-You Wu Lecturer, University of Michigan, 2007.
  • TWAS, Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, 2006.
  • Foreign Associate, Royal Astronomical Society, 2005.
  • American Philosophical Society, 2003.
  • Outstanding Scholar Award, Taiwan, 2002-2006.
  • Faculty Research Lecturer, UC Berkeley 2001.
  • Heineman Prize, American Institute of Physics & American Astronomical Society, 2000.
  • Bruno Rossi Lecturer, Arcetri Observatory, Italy 1999.
  • Brouwer Award, Division of Dynamical Astronomy, 1997.
  • Oort Professor, Leiden University, 1996.
  • President, American Astronomical Society, 1994-1996.
  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1992.
  • Academia Sinica, 1990.
  • US National Academy of Sciences, 1987.
  • Warner Prize, American Astronomical Society 1977.


  • F. H. Shu, J. Najita, E. Ostriker, F. Wilkin, S. Ruden, S. Lizano 1994, Magnetocentrifugally Drive Flows from Young Stars and Disks, Astrophys. J., 429, 781
  • D. Hollenbach, D. Johnstone, S. Lizano, F. Shu 1994, Photoevaporation of Disks around Massive Stars, Astrophys. J., 428, 654
  • S. Lizano, F. H. Shu 1989, Molecular Cloud Cores and Bimodal Star Formation, Astrophys. J., 342, 834
  • F. H. Shu, F. C. Adams, S. Lizano 1987, Star Formation in Molecular Clouds, Ann. Rev. Astr. & Astrophys., 25, 23
  • F. C. Adams, C. J. Lada, F. H. Shu 1987, Spectral Evolution of Young Stellar Objects, Astrophys. J., 312, 788