The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Lotz as the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). Dr. Lotz will begin her five-year appointment as STScI Director starting February 12, 2024. Previously, Dr. Lotz was the Director of the International Gemini Observatory which is operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, and managed by AURA.
“Dr. Lotz is a science driven, accomplished leader,” said Dr. Matt Mountain, President of AURA, which manages STScI on behalf of NASA. “Jen’s passion for the Institute’s mission, to enable the science community in its exploration of the ground-breaking science coming from both JWST and Hubble, and her compelling vision, will ensure an exciting future as she leads STScI into a new era of space science.”
Dr. Lotz was chosen from a pool of highly qualified candidates by a selection committee of respected leaders in the field of astronomy. Her proven leadership skills as Director of Gemini Observatory, her research experience, and her knowledge of the challenges the field of astronomy faces were some of the qualifications that led to her selection as STScI’s next Director. The Chair of AURA’s Board of Directors, Dr. Maura Hagan, added, “The AURA Board of Directors is thrilled with the selection of Jennifer Lotz as the next STScI Director. She represents a new generation of scientific leadership.”
Dr. Lotz will succeed Dr. Nancy Levenson who served since August 2022 as STScI Interim Director. “I welcome Jen’s new perspectives and look forward to working with her to advance STScI,” said Dr. Levenson, who will return to her former position as STScI Deputy Director. AURA extends thanks to Dr. Levenson for her service as Interim Director.
Dr. Lotz received her PhD in astrophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 2003 and specializes in galaxy evolution and morphology, the high-redshift Universe, and gravitational lensing. Before her appointment as Gemini Director, she was a tenured associate astronomer at STScI with a joint appointment as a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University. She was also a Leo Goldberg Fellow at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Santa Cruz.
“I am honored to be rejoining STScI as its next Director. The Institute’s work on Hubble and JWST has been an inspiration for the world,” commented Jen Lotz. “I am also excited to partner with NASA to drive forward a new era of scientific discovery with the new generation of space telescopes – JWST, Roman, and the Habitable Worlds Observatory.”
Lotz is a leading expert in the field of galaxy mergers, and makes use of both ground-based and space telescopes to track the growth of galaxies over cosmic time. She led the Hubble Frontier Fields program, one of the largest programs undertaken with Hubble to detect the faintest distant galaxies yet seen. She continues her study of galaxies at the edge of the universe as part of the JWST Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science team.
STScI, in Baltimore, Maryland, is managed by AURA. For NASA, STScI leads the science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope and the science and mission operations for the James Webb Space Telescope. The Institute will also perform the science operations for the upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. STScI staff conducts world-class scientific research and runs the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) that curates and disseminates data from over 20 astronomical missions. STScI brings science to the world through internationally recognized news, and public outreach and engagement programs.
NOIRLab’s Director Patrick McCarthy has nominated Gemini Deputy Director, Scott Dahm, as the International Gemini Observatory’s Interim Director pending review by governing bodies and funding agencies. NOIRLab will now begin the search for a new permanent Director to lead Gemini Observatory through its next phase.
AURA congratulates Dr. Lotz on her appointment!