Jack Welch, pioneer in molecular radio astronomy, dies

EECS and Astronomy Professor Emeritus William “Jack” Welch died on March 10, 2024. He was 90. 

Welch was a pioneer in molecular radio astronomy, who together with Charles Townes used a radio telescope to make the first detections of ammonia and water in interstellar space. This seminal discovery is credited with detecting dozens of interstellar molecules by astronomers, which enabled detailed studies of star formations in interstellar clouds, and launched the field of astrochemistry.

Professor Welch earned his B.A. in Physics from Stanford University in 1955 before obtaining a Ph.D. in Engineering Science at Berkeley in 1960. He spent the next four decades at Berkeley, contributing to the astronomy department, EECS, and the Graduate School before he retired in 2010. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and an IEEE Fellow.

If you would like more information about Welch’s life and legacy, you can read the astronomy department’s obituary, attached here, or that of the Seti Institute.