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Dr. Laura Ferrarese Appointed Interim Director of Gemini Observatory
June 2, 2017
On July 1, 2017, Dr. Laura Ferrarese begins a one-year term as Interim Director of the Gemini Observatory, which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) on behalf of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for the International Gemini participants which include the United States, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.
Dr. Ferrarese is currently a Principal Research Officer at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and an Adjunct Professor in the Physics and Astronomy Department at the University of Victoria.
"I could only imagine taking this one-year leave from my current positions because I believe so strongly in the Gemini Observatory," said Ferrarese. "As Chair of AURA's Oversight Council for Gemini (AOC-G) for the past three years, I have had the privilege to watch Gemini flourish under Dr. Kissler-Patig's leadership. I'm looking forward to building on the remarkable position that Gemini holds amongst astronomical research facilities, on its unique capabilities, and on its innovative observing modes."
In addition to her service on the AOC-G, Dr. Ferrarese has a long association with Gemini and is a frequent user of the twin Gemini telescopes in Hawai‘i and Chile. She also held the presidency of the Canadian Astronomical Society (CASCA) and is a board member for the Canada France Hawaii Telescope Corporation.
"I'd be hard-pressed to think of another person better qualified to lead Gemini over the next year as we search for a new Director," said Matt Mountain, President of AURA. "Laura's background as a researcher, and her demonstrated leadership ability, will definitely keep Gemini on track and on the forefront of astronomical research."
Dr. Ferrarese is an accomplished observational astronomer, who has built an international reputation as a forefront researcher. Her interests focus on the study of supermassive black holes, their connections to their host galaxies, and the structural and kinematical properties of galaxies - from their nuclei to their extended stellar haloes. She is also active in studies of the extragalactic distance scale and the expansion rate of the Universe.
"Gemini is an important part of Canadian astronomy," said Greg Fahlman, General Manager of the NRC Herzberg Astronomy and Astrophysics. "I am confident that Laura's leadership over this interim period will serve us and the entire Gemini community well."
Dr. Chris Davis, Program Officer for Gemini at the National Science Foundation, adds, "We at the NSF are delighted with the appointment of Laura as Interim Director. She has the experience and drive needed to steer Gemini towards a bright and productive future."
"Gemini's strength will continue to grow as new exciting instruments — GHOST and OCTOCAM — are brought on-line," Dr. Ferrarese concludes. "It is a true honour for me to assume the leadership of Gemini, continue to build on the Observatory strengths, and work with Gemini’s exceptionally dedicated and talented staff."
ABOUT THE GEMINI OBSERVATORY
The Gemini Observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes. The Frederick C. Gillett Gemini Telescope is located on Mauna Kea, Hawai'i (Gemini North) and the Gemini South telescope is on Cerro Pachón in central Chile; together the twin telescopes provide full coverage over both hemispheres of the sky. The telescopes incorporate technologies that allow large relatively thin mirrors, under active control, to collect and focus both visible and infrared radiation from space.
The Gemini Observatory provides the astronomical communities in five participating countries with state-of-the-art astronomical facilities that allocate observing time in proportion to each country’s contribution. In addition to financial support, each country also contributes significant scientific and technical resources. The national research agencies that form the Gemini participants include: the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF); the National Research Council of Canada (NRC); the Brazilian Ministério da Ciência, Technologia e Inovação (MCTI); the Argentinean Ministerio de Ciencia, Technología e Innovación Productiva; and the Chilean Comisión Nacional de Investigación Cientifica y Technológica (CONICYT). Gemini is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc. (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the NSF. The NSF also serves as the executive agency for the international participants.