About the Instructor

My curriculum vitae is linked to this site. As to my personal history:

I was born in the small town (just ask John Mellencamp!) of Seymour, Indiana on July 28, 1965. I was born many years after my two sisters, so I like to think of myself as a pleasant surprise. My parents were poor and had little education themselves, but they encouraged me to excel in school, and taught me what it means to be a decent human being. I owe many of my accomplishments to their constant and unwavering support. Although they are gone, I still try to live up to the standards of personal excellence they instilled in me.

I graduated from high school in 1983, and earned an academic scholarship to attend Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. I spent four snowy but fun years at CWRU, studying first computer science, then physics, then finally settling on astronomy. I also was privileged to join the fine men of Zeta Beta Tau fraternity and enjoyed many great adventures as a Zebe which I will denounce as scandalous lies should I ever run for public office. I graduated magna cum laude from CWRU in 1987, and will probably never live north of the Mason-Dixon line again.

Continuing my career as a student for hire, I received a fellowship to study astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin as a graduate student. In my career as an astronomer, I have had the privilege to work with many fine scientific minds, and gather data at great observatories such as McDonald in West Texas and Palomar in Southern California. My increasing love of teaching, however, combined with the shrinking job market for professional astronomers in the 1990's, motivated me to leave my astronomy dissertation and pursue a doctorate in science education. I finally finished that part of my journey in December of 2005. My advice to people pursuing advanced degrees: Don't get a Real Job -- it really messes up yer timetable!

In 1989, I was approached by Dr. Daryl Pedigo to teach an astronomy class at Austin Community College, and the rest is history. After 10 years as an adjunct, I was finally elevated to full-time status in 2000.  I've been teaching at ACC for over 25 years now, and I love the place. The students and my colleagues are great.

At my best friend's wedding in 1994, I met his sister, Margie. Months later, I finally managed to work up the courage to ask her out, and for some mysterious reason, she said yes. We were married in March of 1999, and she has made my life complete.  Well, almost complete. It finally did become complete with the birth of our son, Jeffrey Michael, on May 27, 2005.  

Great job, wonderful wife, fantastic son.  I am a blessed man indeed.

Enough with the narrative! Make with the Obligatory Picture Section!



Updated 5/24/17
By James E. Heath
Copyright 2006 Austin Community College