Whenever there are celestial happenings, the community turns to one of UNF's perennial stars -- Jay Huebner.
When Comet Hyakutake visited last year and when a network television movie this spring depicted an asteroid crashing into Earth, Huebner was the expert it seemed everyone turned to.
Huebner, a professor in the Department of Natural Science, developed UNF's astronomy laboratory and does everything from organizing comet watching parties on top of the parking garage to giving television interviews on the origins of the universe. When it comes to astronomy, Huebner has the credentials, including a lab text published by Prentice-Hall, and studying at the prestigious Keck Observatory in Waimea-Kamuela, Hawaii in 1993.
What many people may not realize about this charter faculty member is that stars are not his only interest. He is really a "down-to-earth" guy as evidenced by his being the technical director of the Police Traffic Radar Testing Laboratory for the Institute of Police Technology and Managements (IPTM). This laboratory tests and calibrates radars for police departments around the country for a fee. The fees, and other funds earned by IPTM, provide seed grants for UNF faculty research. IPTM is currently the only fund-raising part of the Training and Service Institute (TSI).
Many police departments have started using infrared laser devices, called lidars, to measure vehicular speeds. Huebner helped write the rules for their calibration and, supported by grants from the U.S. and Florida departments of transportation through IPTM, is establishing an Applied Optics and Lidar Laboratory at UNF to do this calibration. This is a convenient arrangement, since this equipment is also used for research in the Center for Membrane Physics, of which Huebner is director. The Center for Membrane Physics has been funded by such prestigious agencies as the National Institutes of Health, Research Corporation and Eastman Kodak Company. These labs share some of the same space and equipment, and will be used to provide experiments for advanced lab projects in the physics program, which is expected to start at UNF in the near future. Currently, the Center for Membrane Physics provides research opportunities for undergraduate students in chemistry and biology.
All of this research and service work doesn't detract from Huebner's teaching. He was named UNF's second distinguished professor in 1980, received a college outstanding teaching award in 1990, the Electrical Engineering Professor of the Year Award for 1993/4, and a TIP award. He has taught such varied courses as astronomy, atomic physics, biophysics, the colonization of space, electronics for scientists, engineering mechanics, introduction to engineering, and nuclear physics. Huebner also participates in a host of professional and trade organizations, and has been a national tour speaker for the American Chemical Society since 1988.
Huebner received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Kansas State University, a master's in physics from San Diego State University, a doctorate in physics from the University of California, Riverside, and did a post doctorate in biophysics at Michigan State University before coming to UNF. He was promoted to full professor in 1979, and has taken two sabbaticals during which he was a visiting professor of chemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology and a Senior Fulbright Scholar in Biology (biophysics) at Universitat Osnabruck, Osnabruck, Germany.
Huebner said he came to UNF because he wanted to help create a new university and be in a department that lacked the artificial barriers often erected between the sciences. A sign on his door reads, "Nature and industry do not respect the discipline boundaries created in academe."