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Robert F. Garrison, professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, first came to the University of Toronto in 1968 after having obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. At the Yerkes Observatory, he worked as a Ph.D student for the well- known American astronomer William Morgan. Afterword, he spent four years (1966-1968) as a Post-Doctoral researcher at Mt. Wilson and Palomar Observatories where he worked with astronomers Armin J. Deutsch and Philip Keenan. Throughout his career he continued to collaborate with Keenan in particular.
Prof Garrison is best known for his research leadership in developing and maintaining an MK spectral classification system centered at the David Dunlop Observatory. This classification was first developed by his mentors Keenan and Morgan and today remains a powerful tool in describing astrophysical characteristics in stars and stellar systems. His on-going collaborators in this endeavor were Chris Corbally and Richard Gray.
Prof Garrison has also made a mark at the University of Toronto as administrator of the University of Toronto Southern Observatory (UTSO) located on Cerro Las Campanas, Chile. He acted as Associate Director from its beginnings in 1970 to its closure in 1997. He also oversaw the move of the Helen Sawyer Hogg Telescope from Chile to Argentina after UTSO was closed.
Professor Garrison has been an active member the International Astronomical Union, serving in several divisions but most importantly as Vice President (1982-1985) and President (1985-1988) of Commission 45 on Stellar Classification. He was also an active member of the Canadian Astronomical Society, the American Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.