Luke Keller

Professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy


Luke Keller

Luke Keller photo by Enid Farber Fotography

Luke Keller is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Ithaca College. He studies the formation of exoplanetary systems using observations of dusty material orbiting distant young stars, called circumstellar or protoplanetary disks. Keller uses data from the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Dr. Keller has developed instruments for several astronomical telescopes. He was a co-investigator on a team that built an infrared camera for NASA’s airborne Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA flew missions from 2010-2022). Keller worked on the optical system for the SOFIA camera and led development and construction of an upgrade enabling spectroscopic observations.

Dr. Keller has worked for over two decades implementing and refining methods for teaching college-level introductory physics and other science courses with a strong focus on student learning with group discussions and student-centered activities replacing more traditional lecture-only formats. Keller regularly serves on review panels for NASA and other scientific agencies.

In parallel with his scientific research and engineering work he has written articles and essays for science communication to the general public and has worked on several projects integrating science with art and performance. His current such project is The Effects of Gravity, a stage performance combining equal parts astrophysics, poetry, and music.

Research Focus

  • Star formation
  • Exoplanet formation
  • Circumstellar disks
  • Protoplanetary disks
  • Infrared astronomy
  • Spectroscopy and spectral analysis
  • SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy)
  • Optical engineering
  • Astronomical telescopes and instrumentation
  • Astronomical observational techniques
  • Extra-terrestrial life
  • Student-centered methods of teaching introductory physics
  • Spitzer Space Telescope
  • Mirror-based telescope systems
  • The scientific process, scientific method
  • Science – Art collaboration


University of Texas at Austin

  • Ph.D., Astronomy, 1999

University of Texas at Austin

  • M.A., Astronomy, 1995

University of Arizona, Tucson

  • B.Sc., Physics, 1990