Russell Frank's universe expanded after he decided to explore his interest in physics. Now he is sponsoring a lecture series to spark the intellectual curiosity of others.
Last year, Frank enrolled in an undergraduate physics course simply because he enjoyed the subject. The lifelong learner and local transplant had such a good experience in professor Bing Zhang's general astronomy course that he decided to audit Zhang's graduate course about gamma ray bursts. "He [Zhang] is so bright and has a special ability of making the complicated material easy to understand," said the 64-year-old Frank.
The New Jersey native wanted to bring more recognition to the department and the university so he funded a new lecture series.
The first event in the Russell Frank Astronomy Lecture Series, which was organized by professors George Rhee and Daniel Proga, featured professor John Johnson from the California Institute of Technology. Johnson spoke about the detection and study of planetary systems in the Milky Way Galaxy.
David Spergel, a theoretical astrophysicist from Princeton, will be the speaker at the spring Russell Frank Astronomy Lecture Series. The lecture is intended for a general audience.
"I have taught graduate level physics courses, finance, and tax law," said Frank, who has multiple degrees and taught at several prestigious institutions. "I was very impressed with the quality of faculty at UNLV."
"I'm proud of my department, especially the astronomy group," said Zhang. "Several of our faculty members have been working on cutting-edge research projects over the years. I'm happy that outside people like Russ appreciate what we are doing."
A Giving Spirit
Frank's parents both passed away of cancer when he was 9. He went to live with his grandparents, who died when he was 16. So his choice of school came down to whichever could give him the most money. He attended Colgate University on scholarship and went on to Princeton for a Ph.D. in theoretical particle physics.
"I have been very lucky in my life and I feel a sense of responsibility to give back to those who don't have the opportunities I did," Frank said.
When academic research funding became tight, he returned to school for an MBA and a Ph.D. in finance from Georgetown University and a law degree from Seton Hall University. After a career with both a tax law practice and an asset management business, Frank retired to Las Vegas.
"I always loved science and regretted that I couldn't continue in the field," said Frank. "I have enjoyed the various courses I have taken at UNLV and providing the astronomy and physics lecture series to the community is my way of giving back to UNLV."