Marlar Lectures

Marlar Lectures

The Marlar Lecture Series, established in 1982, brings a distinguished scientist from the fields of space physics or astronomy to Rice each year to present both a technical seminar and a general public talk on the most exciting current topics of these fields. 


William F. Marlar was a businessman in Denver, Colorado, who was tragically disabled as a result of a robbery. His wife, Freda Marlar, assumed the management of the business, which prospered under her direction. She was a staunch American patriot and believer in the free enterprise system. At the time the Soviets launched their Sputnik in 1957, she felt that American ingenuity and technical knowledge should be stimulated from the private sector of the economy in an effort to equal and eventually surpass the Soviet space accomplishments. To aid in this purpose she established the William F. Marlar Memorial Foundation, which has continued to promote her initial purposes through university grants, since her death in 1968.

Previous Marlar Lecturers and their topics are shown below. The lecture series was discontinued after 2015. 

Fran Bagenal
LASP, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
The New Horizons Mission to Pluto
 September 25, 2013

Linda Spilker
 NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, CA
 Cassini Science Highlights: Surprises in the Saturn System
 September 25, 2013

Mike Brown
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
How I killed Pluto and why it had it coming
March 30, 2010

Neil Gehrels
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt,MD
Black Holes: "From Einstein to Gamma Ray Bursts"
April 7, 2009

Edward Stone
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA
Exploring the Final Frontier of the Solar System
April 19, 2007

John Brown
Astronomer Royal, University of Glasgow, Scotland
Black Holes and White Rabbits
March 9, 2006

Geoff Marcy
University of California, Berkeley
Planets, Yellowstone, and the Prospects for Life in the Universe
September 14, 2004

Louis J. Lanzerotti
Bell Laboratories
Weather in Space: Effects on Technologies
March 18, 2003

Alex Filippenko
University of California, Berkeley
Einstein's Biggest Blunder?  The Case for Cosmic Antigravity
April 25, 2002

James L. Burch
Southwest Research Institute
The Fury of Space Storms
March 28, 2001

Frank Shu
University of California, Berkeley
The Origin of Sunlike Stars and Planetary Systems
November 17, 1999

Alexander J. Dessler
Professor Emeritus, Rice University
Giant Airships and the Space Shuttle: An Historical Analogy
April 15, 1998

Robert E. Williams
Director, Space Telescope Science Institute
Probing the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope
March 6, 1997

Sidney van den Bergh
Dominion Astronomical Observatory,  Canada
Asteroids and Dinosaurs
March 13, 1996

Charles F. Kennel
NASA Headquarters
Global Environmental Science at the Turn of the Millennium
 April 6, 1995 

David Schramm
 University of Chicago
 Dark Matter and the Structure of the Universe
 March 8, 1994

Susan Solomon
Aeronomy Lab ERL/NOAA
Ozone Depletion at the ends of the Earth and Points in Between
November 11, 1992

Eric P. Priest
St. Andrews University
Our Dynamic Sun
March 25, 1992

Joseph H. Taylor
Princeton University
Pulsars, Clocks and Gravity
October 24, 1990

John Imbrie
Brown University
Explaining the Ice Ages
November 1, 1989

G. Haerendel
Max-Planck-Institut for Extraterrestrial Physics
Exploring Comets by Direct Encounter and by Space Simulation
March 17, 1988  

James E. Gunn
Princeton University
Galaxy Formation
April 20, 1987  

Alexander Dalgarno
Harvard University
Molecules in the Universe
April 4, 1986   

Sir Fred Hoyle
Fellow of the Royal Society, UK
Facts Concerning the Existence of Extraterrestrial Life
April 23, 1985         

Michael McElroy
Harvard University
Planetary Atmospheres
April 17-19, 1984

E. E. Salpeter
Cornell University
Galaxy Clusters and Invisible Mass in the Universe
April 14, 1983

Eugene N. Parker
Enrico Fermi Institute
Why are there Spots on the Sun?
March 25, 1982