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Nominated Office: President

Affiliation: University of Minnesota, Minnesota Institute for Astrophysics

Position/title: Professor

PhD institution: University of Rochester (1987)

Areas of scientific interest:

  • Exoplanet characterization
  • Comets and small bodies in the Solar System
  • Dust
  • Novae and Variable Stars
  • Infrared instrumentation
  • Space missions and telescope development

AAS positions & dates:

  • Vice President (2018 – 2015)
  • Councilor (2008 – 2011)
  • Chair, WorldWide Telescope Advisory Committee (2017 – 2018)
  • Member, Ethics Sub-Committee (2016 – 2017)
  • Chair and Member, Committee on the Status of Minorities in Astronomy (2000 – 2004)

Other relevant positions and experience:

  • Member, NASA Astrophysics Advisory Committee, Astrophysics Div., Sci. Mission Directorate, NASA HQ (2018 – present)
  • Chair, SOFIA Users Committee (2018 – present)
  • Board Vice-Chair, Large Binocular Telescope Corp. (501[c](3)) (2011 – present)
  • Member, Astronomy & Astrophysics Advisory Committee (AAAC) (2010 – 2012)
  • Member, Astro2010 OIR Decadale Panel (2009 – 2010)
  • Board Chair, International Gemini Observatory Board (2008 – 2010)
  • Member, Space Studies Board, National Academies of Science / National Research Council (2007 – 2011)
  • Board Member (US Representative), International Gemini Observatory Board (2002 – 2007)
  • Chair, National Optical Astronomical Observatory Users Committee (2000 – 2003)
  • Member, NASA Space Infrared Telescope Facility (aka Spitzer) Science Users Committee (1998 – 2002)

Candidate Statement:

The exploration of the universe is a story of human curiosity and imagination. As an organization, the AAS advocates for individuals dedicated to seeking a better scientific understanding of the cosmos in a variety of disciplines and to communicating these frontier discoveries to the public. The AAS, through a range of activities, also serves as a catalyst for consensus building within the professional community. I am humbled by the nomination to stand as President of this member-driven institution of science, innovation, equity, and inclusion.

Our Society faces many challenges and must adapt to the evolving landscape of science to provide ongoing national leadership. If elected President, I will continue to move the AAS toward inclusivity, putting forth initiatives to provide leadership opportunities for early-career members and those whose presence and voices traditionally have been under-represented. We must embrace our diversity and provide spaces where a wide range of conversations, exchange of scientific ideas, and consensus building can occur with mutual respect. This goal is the core of our Society’s relevance and growth as we seek to advance scientific knowledge of the universe and communicate its importance. A second goal will be to pivot our Society’s focus and energy towards advancing science literacy and science advocacy within the public conversation and championing the importance of fundamental science to the nation and stakeholders. This renewed emphasis on the AAS’s science advocacy role will have high impact as our communities embark upon Decadal Survey processes. Our Society should be a leader in enhancing the pre-eminence of scientific discourse in a currently complex environment informed by a disparate worldview. Lastly, the AAS must enhance members’ engagement with our mission. Here, we need to understand more clearly the needs and expectations of our professional membership, divisions, and diversity/advocacy committees to enable the AAS to create actionable, relevant, and outcome driven value propositions.

Guided by voices and aspirations of AAS members, passionate volunteers, and professional staff, we can together progress an organization that is scientifically creative, publicly responsive, professionally relevant, and is our collective home.