Dr. Hélène R. Dickel received her A.B. in mathematics from Mount Holyoke College in 1959 and her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Michigan in 1964. She is currently an Emerita Research Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois and an Adjunct Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department of the University of New Mexico. She co-discovered the first formaldehyde maser in 1979 and is a pioneer in radio molecular spectroscopy using radio aperture synthesis techniques, including making some of the first images of molecular distributions with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, the Very Large Array of Radio Telescopes of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and the millimeter array of the Berkeley- Illinois-Maryland Association for which she was the BIMA Scheduler from 1994 through 1998. Prof. Dickel is the author of over 100 publications. Recent research includes radiative transfer modeling of star-forming regions.
She and her astronomer husband, John, were "Faculty Friends" to the undergraduates living in the Snyder residence hall at the University of Illinois since 1994 (and with the FF program since 1989). For twenty years they hosted "January term" student interns in astronomy from Mt. Holyoke, Wheaton, Oberlin, and Carroll Colleges. Interests outside of astronomy include ice dance (became a USFSA silver ice dancer in 2002), cross-country skiing (when there is snow!), canoeing, hiking, and church choir. They retired to Albuquerque, NM in June 2005.
Prof. Dickel has held Visiting positions at the Division of Radiophysics in Sydney, Australia (1970-71), Sterrewacht te Leiden, the Netherlands (1977-79), Earth and Space Sciences Division of the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico (1985-86) and more recently at the Australia Telescope National Facility in Sydney, Australia (1992-93). While on sabbatical during 1999-2000 at the Netherlands Foundation for Research in Astronomy in Dwingeloo, Prof. Dickel held a Visiting Professor appointment (1 day/week) at the Astronomical Institute of the University of Amsterdam. She retired in 2001 and is now an Emerita Research Professor of Astronomy at the University of Illinois and became an Adjunct Professor at the University of New Mexico in 2005 where she is working on their Long Wavelength Array project.
She is a member of a number of professional societies including the International Scientific Radio Union, Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, and Association for Women in Science. She was chair of the Nominating Committee of the American Astronomical Society in 1992. She has been a member of the scientific organizing committee of Commission 40 on Radio Astronomy of the International Astronomical Union. Prof. Dickel was President of the IAU Comission 5 Working Group [on Astronomical] Designations from 1997 - 2003. Dr. Dickel was a Tour Speaker for the American Chemical Society (1986-2008)and a Shapley Visiting Lecturer for the American Astronomical Society (1982-2007. She still gives occasional lectures to the Society of Physics Students and Sigma Xi, among other groups.