CAA Member Bios
MARCIA J. RIEKE (NAS) is a Regents’ Professor of Astronomy and an astronomer in the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include infrared observations of galactic nuclei and high-redshift galaxies. She has served as the deputy principle investigator (PI) on the near-infrared camera and multi-object spectrometer for Hubble Space Telescope (NICMOS), and she is currently the PI for the near-infrared camera (NIRCam) for the James Webb Space Telescope. Dr. Rieke has worked on the Spitzer Space Telescope as a co-investigator for the multiband imaging photometer and as an outreach coordinator and as a member of the Science Working Group. She was also involved with several infrared ground observatories, including the Multiple Mirror Telescope in Arizona. Dr. Rieke is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She received her Ph.D. in physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Rieke currently serves on the NRC’s Space Studies Board. Her previous NRC service includes as co-vice chair of the Astro2010 Decadal Survey Committee, as a member on the 2000 astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey steering committee, as a vice chair on the Panel on Ultraviolet, Optical, and Infrared Astronomy from Space for the 2000 survey, and as a member on the Steering Committee for the Task Group on Space Astronomy and Astrophysics, and the U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union.
PAUL L. SCHECHTER (NAS) is the William A. M. Burden Professor of Astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Dr. Schechter's research interests are galaxies, clusters of galaxies, the distribution of galaxies and the real time correction of telescope aberrations. He has worked extensively on the gravitational macro- and micro-lensing of quasars by intervening galaxies and the stars therein. Prior to joining the faculty at MIT, Dr. Schechter held postdoctoral positions at the Institute for Advanced Study and the University of Arizona, and staff positions at Kitt Peak National Observatory and the Carnegie Observatories. He helped develop the active optics and alignment systems for the Magellan Telescopes. Dr. Schechter received his A.B. in physics and mathematics from Cornell University and his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology. He was a member of the Astro2010 Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space and is currently a member of the Board on Physics and Astronomy and co-chair of its Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
JEREMIAH K. DARLING is an assistant professor of astrophysics at the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His research focuses on galaxy evolution and cosmology, including hydroxyl megamasers, galaxy-black hole co-evolution, formaldehyde and water in star-forming galaxies, molecular and atomic gas in gravitation lenses, high-redshift quasars, hydrogen absorption, and the evolution of the fine structure constant. Dr. Darling is currently working on molecular methods to identify and study star-forming and merging galaxies and to use those galaxies as cosmological programs. He has observed with the Magellan telescopes, the Spitzer Space Telescope, Arecibo, the Very Large Array, the Very Long Baseline Array, the Green Bank Telescope, Palomar, Keck, Westerbork, the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope, and Kitt Peak. In addition, Dr. Darling is involved with preparations for upcoming telescopes, including the Expanded Very Large Array, the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array, the Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope, the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, and the Square Kilometre Array. He received his B.S. in physics from the California Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Cornell University. Dr. Darling is a member of the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.MEGAN DONAHUE is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University. Dr. Donahue’s research interests include the thermodynamic state and behavior of baryons in and around galaxies, intergalactic gas, star formation in bright cluster galaxies, and dark matter in distant galactic clusters, for which she uses data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope and the European Space Agency's X-ray Multi-Mirror Newton X-ray Observatory. She also uses the Spitzer and SOAR (the MSU Chilean telescope) programs to study brightest cluster galaxies and clusters. Dr. Donahue earned her B.S. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and her Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Colorado. Dr. Donahue previously served on the NRC Astro2010 Decadal Survey Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space, the U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union, and the NASA Astrophysics Performance Assessment Committee.
DEBRA FISCHER is a professor in astronomy at Yale University. She previously served as an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Her research is centered on the detection and characterization of planets orbiting other stars. Dr. Fischer has been a principal investigator (PI) on several projects, including the Lick Planetary Search program, the CTIO planet search in Chile, and Doppler analysis software. She is the PI for CHIRON, a high-resolution spectrometer to look for rocky planets around Alpha Centauri A and B stars, which is centered at CTIO. Dr. Fischer discovered the first known multiple planet system while at San Francisco State University. She led an international consortium to carry out a search for planets around metal-rich stars, which found 50 such stars. Dr. Fischer has also modeled spectra of stars on planet search programs at several observatories, demonstrating a strong correlation between the chemical composition of stars and the presence of gas giant planets. She is currently on the NASA Management Operations Working Group and the NSF Portfolios Review Committee. Dr. Fischer received her B.S. from the University of Iowa, her M.S. in physics from San Francisco State University, and her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She served on the NRC’s the Committee on a Strategy to Optimize the U.S. Optical and Infrared System in the Era of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.JOSHUA A. FRIEMAN is a scientist at the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), which he headed from 1994 to 1999, and is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the University of Chicago, where he is also a member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics. He is a fellow of APS and AAAS and a trustee of the Aspen Center for Physics. He served on the Executive Committee of the APS Division of Astrophysics. Dr. Frieman’s research centers on theoretical and observational cosmology, including studies of the nature of dark energy, the very early universe, gravitational lensing, the large-scale structure of the universe, and supernovae as cosmological distance indicators. He is the author of more than 200 publications, has led the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) Supernova Survey, and served as chair of the SDSS Collaboration Council. He is a founder of the Dark Energy Survey and serves as co-chair of its Science Committee. He earned a B.Sc. degree from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago. Dr. Frieman’s previous NRC membership includes service the Assessment of a Plan for U.S. Participation in Euclid, Committee on Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2010 and the Panel on Particle, Nuclear, and Gravitational-Wave Astrophysics.
TOM GREENE is an astrophysicist for the Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA’s Ames Center for Exoplanet Studies. While at NASA he was the branch chief, a staff member and director of the NASA Infrared Telescope (IRTF), and more recently the SOFIA project scientist. Prior to NASA he was the capture lead for a James Webb Space Telescope instrument study, an Explorer mission (FAME) while working at the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center. Dr. Greene received his B.A. in physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Arizona. His served as a member on the NRC Astro2010 Panel on Electromagnetic Observations from Space.
TIMOTHY M. HECKMAN is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy of the Johns Hopkins University and Director of the Center for Astrophysical Sciences. He is also the inaugural Dr. A. Hermann Pfund Professor. As Director he is responsible for promoting and supporting research in astrophysics, for nurturing large-scale projects and providing them with an organizational structure, for providing a forum and a focus for strategic planning, for fostering cooperation between the different elements of the local astrophysics and space science communities, and for providing a structured career path for the non-tenure-track research staff. His research interests include galaxy evolution, starbursts, black holes, and active galactic nuclei. Dr. Heckman is a member of the GALEX Science Team, a builder of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, Chair of the Pan-STARRS1 Science Consortium Board, Vice Chair of the Board of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, and was the chair of the Astrophysical Research Consortium Board of Governors from 1995 to 2000, during which time ARC established the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. He has authored or co-authored over 600 scholarly publications which have been cited over 28,000 times and has been invited to give nearly 100 talks at national and international conferences. Dr. Heckman received his B.A. from Harvard College, and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Washington. He was a member of the NRC’s Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics from 2004 to 2007, and was a member of the Astro2010 Decadal Survey’s steering committee.
LYNNE HILLENBRAND is a professor of astronomy and executive officer for astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Her research interests are in star formation, young stars and stellar clusters, accretion and debris disks, planet formation, and extrasolar planets. Dr. Hillenbrand's research deals with observational and data analysis experience covering wavelengths from x ray to millimeter, although focusing mostly on optical/near-infrared science. She is currently serving on the U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union and is its vice-chair through 2013. In addition, she is serving on the Las Cumbres Observatory Science Advisory Board and NASA's Cosmic Origins Program Assessment Group. Other service to the astronomy and astrophysics community over the past decade includes membership on the Astronomical Society of the Pacific board of directors, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy board of directors, the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's ALTAIR (Access to Large Telescopes for Astronomical Instruction and Research) committee, NSF's Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee's Exo-Planet Task Force Subcommittee, the first NSF "Senior Review" of Facilities, the NASA Origins Sub-Committee of the Office of Space Science FACA structure, as well as numerous science steering or advisory committees for various observatories and facilities. Dr. Hillenbrand received her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Massachusetts. She was a member of the NRC's Astro2010 Decadal Survey Committee and served on the subsequent Panel on Implementing Recommendations from New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey. She was also a member of the Panel on Ultraviolet, Optical, and Infrared Astronomy from Space of the 2001 astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey, and served on the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
CHRISTOPHER F. McKEE (NAS) is a professor of physics and of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his PhD in Physics. His research focuses on the theory of the interstellar medium and of star formation. He helped develop the three-phase model of the interstellar medium, which has been widely used to organize and interpret observational data. He is currently carrying out numerical simulations of star formation. Dr. McKee is a member of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Dr. McKee led the establishment of the Theoretical Astrophysics Center at Berkeley and served as its first director. He subsequently directed the Space Sciences Laboratory and served as the chair for the Department of Physics. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and serves as the NAS Section 12 liaison. He previously served on the NRC's Board on Physics and Astronomy, the Committee on Review of Progress in Astronomy and Astrophysics toward the Decadal Vision, and co-chaired the 2000 astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey.
RENE A. ONG is professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is an experimental and observational astrophysicist working primarily in the areas of gamma-ray astronomy and cosmic ray physics, using both ground-based and space-borne instruments. He is currently the co-spokesperson of the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) Consortium. Dr. Ong also serves as a member of the Physics Research Committee (PRC) of the DESY laboratory in Germany. Dr. Ong was an A.P. Sloan Foundation fellow and is a fellow of the APS. He has been a member of numerous advisory committees, including the Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee, the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP), the Universe Exploration Strategic Roadmap Committee, the GLAST User’s Group, and the Experimental Program Advisory Committee for the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He chaired a HEPAP sub-panel—the Scientific Assessment Group for Experiments in Non-Accelerator Physics. Dr. Ong received his Ph.D. for physics from Stanford University. He served on the NRC’s Committee on the Assessment of the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) and on the Astro2010 Decadal Survey’s Panel on Particle Astrophysics and Gravitation. Other NRC service includes membership on the Committee on Scientific Assessment of Proposed U.S. Neutrino Experiments, the Panel on High-Energy Astrophysics from Space, and the Panel on Particle, Nuclear, and Gravitational-wave Astrophysics of the 2000 astronomy and astrophysics decadal survey. JAMES M. STONE is professor of astrophysical sciences and applied and computational mathematics at Princeton University. He is also the associate director of the Princeton Institute for Computational Science and Engineering. His research group studies gas dynamics in a wide variety of astrophysical systems, from protostars to clusters of galaxies. As part of this effort, the group develops, tests, and applies numerical algorithms for astrophysical gas dynamics on high-performance computers. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Stone served as a member on the NRC committee on the Potential Impact of High-End Computing on Illustrative Fields of Science and Engineering and the Plasma Science Committee.
ALEXEY VIKHLININ is deputy associate director of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He is also a senior researcher at the High Energy Astrophysics division of Moscow's Space Research Institute. His main research area is X-ray studies of galaxy clusters and their applications for cosmology and physics of the intergalactic medium. The main past projects in this area include: Development of the efficient detection pipeline for extended X-ray sources -- the backbone of the 160 and 400 square degrees surveys;Using Chandra to study cold fronts in merging clusters; Reconstruction of the mass distribution in low-redshift clusters from deep Chandra observations and study of cluster evolution at high redshifts; and Using X-ray observations to constrain Dark Energy parameters using evolution of the cluster mass function. His research also includes collaboration with the South Pole Telescope team on X-ray observations of clusters discovered by their Sunyaev-Zeldovich signal; improvements in the cluster mass calibration using weak lensing techniques; studies of interplay between stellar and gaseous baryonic components in clusters; helping theorists to improve the intracluster medium modeling in numerical simulations; also helping to make sure that a next-generation all-sky X-ray survey (e.g., SRG/eRosita or WFXT) becomes a reality. After receiving his Ph.D. in Moscow in 1995, Vikhlinin came to the United States where his main research is on X-ray studies of galaxy clusters and their application for cosmology and the physics of the intergalactic medium. He was recently co-awarded the 2008 Rossi Prize from the American Astronomical Society for his work on cluster cosmology and cold fronts. He has no prior NRC committee service.
J. CRAIG WHEELER is the Samuel T. and Fern Yanagisawa Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin, where he was chair of the department from 1986 to 1990. He was a Research Fellow at Caltech working in Nobel Laureate Willy Fowler's group from 1969 to 1971. From 1971 to 1974, he was an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Harvard. In 1974, he moved to Texas as an Associate Professor of Astronomy. He specializes in the astrophysics of violent events: supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, gamma-ray bursts and the relation of these events to astrobiology. He was elected to the Academy of Distinguished Teachers at the University of Texas in 2002 and won a state-wide Regent’s Teaching Award in 2010. He served as President of the American Astronomical Society, and chair of the NASA Senior Review of Operating Missions. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society since 2007 and was awarded the Hyer Award for Best Dissertation Supervisor of the Texas Section of the American Physical Society in 2008. He has published nearly 300 papers in refereed journals and many conference proceedings and has edited books on supernovae and accretion disks. He has also written a popular astronomy book, "Cosmic Catastrophes: Supernovae, Gamma-Ray Bursts and Adventures in Hyperspace" the second edition of which was released in December 2006. Dr. Wheeler has served on numerous NRC committees, including the Space Studies Board, the Committee on the Astrophysical Context of Life, the Committee on the Scientific Context for Space Exploration, and the Committee on an Assessment of Balance in NASA's Science Programs, among others.
ERIC M. WILCOTS is a Professor of Astronomy and Associate Dean for Natural and Mathematical Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics in 1993 from University of Washington. He is an observer with broad expertise in the gas content and evolution of galaxies and galaxy groups and the impact of massive stars on the evolution of galaxies. This work includes understanding the distribution and kinematics of neutral hydrogen in and around galaxies, the impact of massive stars on their environment, and the role of active galactic nuclei in the evolution of galaxy groups and structure. He brings knowledge about radio, optical, and infrared astronomy. Professor Wilcots has served on the Users, Visitors, and Program Advisory Committees for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He was also a member of the Associated Universities, Inc. Committee on the Future of Radio Astronomy. He was a member of the Science Working Group for the International Square Kilometer Array project and is a member of the Board of the Southern African Large Telescope. He has also served on the board of the Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-National (WIYN) Optical Astronomical Observatory consortium. Dr. Wilcots served as Chair of the Department of Astronomy at UW-Madison before becoming an Associate Dean in the College of Letters & Science. Dr. Wilcots is also a trustee of the Associated Universities Inc. He was a member of the NRC’s Astro2010 Panel on Galaxies Across Cosmic Time.
A. THOMAS YOUNG (NAE) is retired executive vice president of Lockheed Martin. He is currently chair of the board of SAIC. Mr. Young previously was president and chief operating officer of Martin Marietta Corporation. Prior to joining industry, Mr. Young worked for 21 years at NASA. At NASA, he directed the Goddard Space Flight Center, was deputy director of the Ames Research Center, and directed the Planetary Program in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters. Mr. Young received high acclaim for his technical leadership in organizing and directing national space and defense programs, especially the Viking program. He is currently a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) and of the American Astronautical Society (AAS). Mr. Young previously served as the vice chair of the NRC’s Space Studies Board and has extensive NRC experience. Prior committee service includes membership on the Planetary Science Decadal Survey steering committee, the Astro2010 Decadal Survey Committee and subsequent Panel on Implementing Recommendations from New Worlds, New Horizons Decadal Survey, and the Committee on Assessment of Impediments to Interagency Cooperation on Space and Earth Science Missions.