David L. Band

David Band is an astrophysicist in the High Energy Astrophysics group in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences (CASS) at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). David works primaily on gamma-ray bursts, flashes which last from a fraction of a second to many minutes. As a member of the instrument team of the the Burst And Transient Source Experiment (BATSE) on the Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory (CGRO), David studies the spectra of bursts. The major issue in burst spectroscopy is the existence of spectral lines: other missions have reported absorption lines while BATSE has not. David's bailiwick within the search for absorption lines is the statistical analysis of this issue. David has also been characterizing the shape of the burst continuum and its evolution. Recently David has become active in the search for optical counterparts and host galaxies.

In addition to working on gamma ray bursts, David is interested in the central engines of active galactic nuclei (AGN) and the bizarre Galactic jet source SS 433. David is leading a collaboration observing SS 433 with RXTE.

Personal History

David is bicoastal. He was born in Boston in 1957, but at the tender age of 2-1/2 he was taken West to the wilds of Beverly Hills. After four undergraduate years at MIT (1975-1979), where he worked on moonquakes and Venusian masscons, he ventured up the river to Harvard for graduate school. After six years (1979-1985) of research on relativistic plasmas, computational MHD, multi-scale height stellar atmospheres, X-ray observations of SS 433 and empirical modeling of inverse Compton scattering sources, David left Cambridge with a Ph.D. in Physics (thesis advisor: Josh Grindlay).

David then bounced back across the continent for over 5 years of postdoctoral work at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). The first position was in the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) where David worked on modeling the spectra of active galactic nuclei (AGN), observed SS 433, and studied supernova expansion. His second postdoctoral position, laundered through UC Berkeley, was devoted to radiative transfer in AGN using the new code ALTAIR. The major success of this second position was modeling the X-ray spectrum of NGC 1068.

In 1991 the Band family trekked down the coast to San Diego, where David joined CASS at UCSD to work on the BATSE observations of gamma ray bursts.


David married Debra Beverley Levy the old fashion way: right after college graduation. While growing up, Debbie Band wanted to be either a veterinarian or an artist. She has fulfilled the desire to be a veterinarian by collecting a menagerie which currently consists of "only" four cats and a cockatiel. After a stint as a health planner, Debbie is succeeding in her alternate professional goal: she is an artist specializing in Hebrew illuminated manuscripts. Her work is distinguished by a deep knowledge of Jewish sources and symbols. Debbie and David have two sons: Zvi, 14, and Gabriel, 11.

David's parents are both in Jewish Studies. Dr. Arnold J. Band is a well known professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at UCLA. Ora Band teaches Hebrew language at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. David's brother, Jonathan, is a lawyer specializing in the intellectual property issues of computer software; he is a partner in the Morrison & Forrester office in Washington DC.

Last updated December 21, 1998.