Richard F. Arenstorf Scholarship


The Richard F. Arenstorf Scholarship is an endowed scholarship made possible by a generous gift of the late Richard Arenstorf, a professor of mathematics at Vanderbilt University from 1969 to 1997. It is awarded to a select group of primarily incoming graduate students each year to offset educational expenses.

After earning his B.S. and M.S. from the University of Goettingen in 1952 and 1954, respectively, and Ph.D. from the University of Mainz in 1956, Arenstorf moved to the United States to work at the Army Ballistics Missile Agency in Huntsville, Alabama. In 1960, he began working with NASA, and, after the first successful manned moon landing, he joined the Department of Mathematics at Vanderbilt University.

Professor Arenstorf made significant contributions to mathematics and to the Vanderbilt Department of Mathematics. His primary area of research was in celestial mechanics. His work on the “three-body problem” led to his discovery of what are now known as the “Arenstorf Periodic Orbits,” which were important in the planning of the Apollo Lunar Landing Missions. He was awarded the NASA Medal for Exceptional Scientific Achievement in 1966 for his groundbreaking contributions to the space program.

As a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics, he introduced and offered a number of new graduate courses and was an advisor to several graduate students studying number theory. He also served on the university’s Computer Resources Committee, Patent Review Committee, Graduate Faculty Council, and Traffic Committee. He was a member of the American Mathematical Society, Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the National Space Institute.

Professor Arenstorf became an emeritus professor with the department in 1997. He passed away on September 18, 2014.