Roberta Humphreys is an observational stellar astrophysicist. Her research has included Galactic structure, observational stellar evolution, stellar populations in nearby galaxies, and large databases. She is best known for her research on massive stars in the Milky Way and in nearby resolved galaxies.

She received an AB in Astronomy from Indiana University in 1965. She then went to the University of Michigan where she received an MS in Astronomy in 1967 and a Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1969. Subsequently, she completed her post-doctoral training at Vanderbilt University and at the Steward Observatory, University of Arizona, with Bart Bok. 

She joined the University of Minnesota in 1972 as an Assistant Professor, becoming Associate Professor in 1976 and a Full Professor in 1983. In 2001, she was named a Distinguished Professor in the College of Science and Engineering. She was the first woman in the college to receive this honor recognition. From 2002 to 2007, she served as the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota.  In 2017, Humphreys became Professor Emerita at the University of Minnesota. 

Throughout much of her time as a tenured professor at the Unversity of Minnesota, Roberta Humphreys was active in faculty governance. During the “tenure wars” of 1995-96, when the Board of Regents and central administration tried to revise the tenure code and effectively remove tenure, she was one of the faculty leaders opposing the administration and worked with the AAUP during the collective bargaining campaign. As Associate Dean, she was responsible for faculty affairs for the college including promotion and tenure and the college's program for women faculty and students. In 2005 she initiated and served as co-PI on an ADVANCE proposal to NSF for the advancement of women in science and engineering. She also led the initial organization of 16 Minnesota colleges and universities for the submission of an LSAMP proposal to NSF. The latter was successful.


Education University Year
AB Indiana University 1965
MS University of Michigan 1967
Ph.D.  University of Michigan 1969
(July 18, two days before Neil Armstrong walked on the Moon.)


Academic Appointments Duration
Research Associate, Dyer Observatory, Vanderbilt University 1969 - 1970
Research Associate, Steward Observatory, University of Arizona 1970 - 1972
Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota 1972 - 1976
Associate Professor, University of Minnesota 1976 - 1983
Professor, University of Minnesota 1983 - 2017
College of Science & Engineering Distinguished Professor 2001 - 2017
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, College of Science and Engineering 2002 - 2007
Professor Emerita 2017 - Present