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 JPL's Science Division: People
William  Langer's Picture
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Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 183-335
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
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William Langer
Senior Research Scientist

Dr. William D. Langer received his Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University. After leaving Yale, he continued his research in nuclear astrophysics as a Postdoc at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, followed by a year as an NSF-NATO Fellow at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen.  Dr. Langer then spent several years on the faculties of New York University and the University of Pennsylvania where he taught physics and astronomy.  Originally a theorist, he broadened his work to observational radio astronomy at AT&T's Bell Laboratories, where he was a visiting astronomer.  He came to JPL in 1991 from Princeton University.

Over the years his research interests have spanned a wide range of theoretical and observational studies including neutron stars, solid state physics, fusion plasmas, Galactic structure, the interstellar medium, star formation, active galactic nuclei containing supermassive black holes, and the chemical evolution of stars and planetary disks.  He is a former Manager of the Science Division and was the Project Scientist for the Herschel Space Observatory in its formative years.  Dr. Langer is author, or co-author, of over 190 peer-reviewed research papers, a book on atomic processes, and editor of conference proceedings.  He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Professional Experience
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology (1991 - Present)
    • Senior Research Scientist (1997 - Present)
    • Deputy Director for Research, Engineering and Science Directorate (2006-2009)
    • Manager, Science Division (2001-2006)
    • Project Scientist Herschel Space Observatory (1997-2001)
  • Plasma Physics Laboratory, Princeton University
  • Associate Professor Physics and Astronomy, University of Massachusetts
  • Assistant Professor Astronomy, University of Pennsylvania
  • Assistant Professor of Physics, New York University
  • NATO-NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Niels Bohr Institute, Copenhagen
  • NRC-Postdoc, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NY

Selected Awards
  • Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal
  • NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal

Selected Publications

Books and Proceedings

  1. R. K. Janev, W. D. Langer, K. Evans, Jr. and D. E. Post, "Elementary Processes in Hydrogen - Helium Plasmas: Cross Sections and Reaction Rate Coefficients”, Springer Series on Atoms + Plasmas (1987); (Springer-Verlag: Heidelberg).
  2. W. D. Langer and T. Phillips, Eds., "Herschel A Vision of the Cool Universe," Proceedings of a workshop held in San Diego in Feb. 2001, published in 2002.

Selected Recent Publications

  1. Langer, W. D., Goldsmith, P. F., Pineda, J. L., et al., The Nature of Molecular Cloud Boundary Layers from SOFIA [O I] Observations, (2018), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 617, A94.
  2. Langer, W. D., Velusamy, T., Goldsmith, P. F., Pineda, J. L., et al., Ionized Gas in the Scutum Spiral Arm as Traced in [N II] and [C II],( 2017), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 607, A59.
  3. Pineda, J. L., Langer, W. D., Goldsmith, P. F., Horiuchi, S. et al., Characterizing the Transition from Diffuse to Atomic to Dense Molecular Clouds in the Magellanic Clouds with [C II], [C I], and CO, (2017), The Astrophysical Journal, 839, 107.
  4. Velusamy, T., Langer, W. D., Goldsmith, P. F., & Pineda, J. L., (201&), Thermal Pressure in Diffuse H2 Gas Measured by Herschel [C II] Emission and FUSE UV H2 Absorption, (2017), The Astrophysical Journal, 838, 165.
  5. Langer, D., Goldsmith, P. F., & Pineda, J. L., [C II] and [N II] from Dense Ionized Regions in the Galaxy, (2016), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 590, A43.
  6. Goldsmith, P. F., Pineda, J. L., Langer, D., et al., L1599B: Cloud Envelope and C+ Emission in a Region of Moderately Enhanced Radiation Field, (2016), The Astrophysical Journal, 824, 141.
  7. Langer, W. D. & Pineda, J. L. , [C II] Emission from Active Galactic Nuclei in the Presence of X-rays, (2015), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 580, 5.
  8. Velusamy, T., Langer, W. D., Goldsmith, P. F., & Pineda, J. L., Internal Structure of Spiral Arms Traced with [C II], (2015), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 578,135.
  9. Langer, W. D., Goldsmith, P. F., Pineda, J. L. et al., Ionized Gas at the Edge of the Central Molecular Zone, (2015), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 576, 1.
  10. Langer, W. D., Pineda, J. L., & Velusamy, T., The Scale Height of Gas Traced by [CII] in the Galactic Plane, (2014), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 564, A101.
  11. J. L. Pineda, Langer, W. D., & Goldsmith, P. F., A Herschel [CII] Galactic Plane Survey III: [CII] as a Tracer of Star Formation, (2014), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 570, 121.
  12. Velusamy, T. & Langer, W. D., Origin and z-Distribution of Galactic Diffuse [CII] Emission, (2014), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 572, 45.
  13. Langer, W. D., Velusamy, T., Pineda, J. L., Willacy, K., & Goldsmith, P. F., A Herschel [CII] Galactic Plane Survey II: CO-dark H2 in Clouds (2014), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 561, A122.
  14. Velusamy, T. & Langer, W. D.  HiRes Deconvolved Spitzer Images of 85 Protostellar Jets and Outflows: New Data on Evolution and Morphology, Astrophysical Journal (2014), 783, 6.
  15. Langer, W. D. , Pineda, J. L., & Velusamy, T., The Scale Height of Gas Traced by [CII] in the Galactic Plane (2014), Astronomy & Astrophysics (2014), 564, A101.
  16. Langer, W. D., Velusamy, T., Pineda, J. L., et al., A Herschel [CII] Galactic Plane Survey II: CO-dark H2 in Clouds (2014), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 562, A122.
  17. Pineda, J. L., Langer, W. D., Velusamy, T., & Goldsmith, P. F., A Herschel [CII] Galactic Plane Survey I: the Global Distribution of ISM Gas Components, (2013), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 554, A103.
  18. Goldsmith, P. F., Langer, W. D., Pineda, J. L. & Velusamy, T., Collisional Excitation of the [CII] Fine-Structure Transition in Interstellar Clouds, (2012), The Astrophysical Journal Supplements, 203, 13..
  19. Velusamy, T., Langer, W. D. , Pineda, J. L., & Goldsmith, P. F., [CII] 158 micron Line Detection of the Warm Ionized Medium in the Scutum-Crux Spiral Arm Tangency, (2012), Astronomy & Astrophysics, 541, L10.
  20. Velusamy, T., Langer, W. D. , Kumar, M. S. N. & Grave, J. M. C., Jets and Wide-angle Outflows in Cepheus E: New Evidence from Spitzer,(2011), The Astrophysical Journal, 741, 60.

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