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USNC/IAU Home > Beyond the Decade: Symposium Speakers Biographies


Dr. Brian Boyle is currently CSIRO SKA Director. He was previously Director of the Anglo-Australian Observatory from 1996-2003 and the CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility from 2003-2009. His primary research interests are quasars, active galactic nuclei and cosmology. He has published over 130 refereed papers and chaired the National Committee for Astronomy during its development of Australia's Decadal Plan for Astronomy 2006-2015. Dr Boyle is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. He was awarded the Australian Centenary Medal in 2003 for service to astronomy.

Dr. Jiansheng Chen is a Professorial Scientist at the National Astronomical Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is also Director of the Department of Astronomy at Peking University and head of the Recommendation Committee for the Shaw Astronomy Prize and a former Deputy Director of the Academic Division of Mathematics and Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is Chairman of the Astronomical Advisory Board of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and serves as a member of the Special Nominating Committee of IAU. Professor Chen’s primary research interest is in the fields of QSO absorption line, QSO survey, Galactic Physics and Large scale astronomy.

Dr. Eileen Friel is the current Director of Lowell Observatory. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Santa Cruz and followed this by postdoctoral fellowship positions at the University of Hawaii and the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics in Victoria, Canada, and as a NATO fellow at the Observatoire de Paris. She served as Director of Maria Mitchell Observatory for five years, during which time she also initiated the first international Research Experiences for Undergraduate program at Cerro Tololo InterAmerican Observatory. Before joining Lowell in June 2009, she spent 12 years at the National Science Foundation, first as a program officer for several years, and then as Executive Officer of the Division of Astronomical Sciences.

Dr. Martha Haynes is a native of the Boston area, and graduated with special honors from Wellesley College. She received her masters and Ph.D. degrees from Indiana University. She then served on the staff of the Arecibo Observatory of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in Puerto Rico and was the Assistant Director for Green Bank Operations of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. She joined the Cornell faculty in 1983 and is now the Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy. She has served on numerous institutional and agency boards and advisory committees including the Spectrum Planning and Policy Advisory Committee of the National Telecommunications and Information Agency. She was the Interim President of Associated Universities, Inc. during the initial design and development phase of the Millimeter Array project, now the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA). Dr. Haynes is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and is a recipient of the 1989 Henry Draper Medal for her work on mapping the three-dimensional distribution of galaxies in the local universe.

Dr. Hajime Inoue obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo in 1977. He has continuously made significant contributions to the developments of the Japanese X-ray astronomy satellites, Hakucho (launched in 1979), Tenma (in 1983), Ginga (in 1987), ASCA (in 1993), and Suzaku (in 2005). He just completed his four year term as executive director of ISAS, JAXA in September 2009. In astrophysical research, he has mainly been studying phenomena related to accretion flows onto neutron stars or black holes including active galactic nuclei. As a result of these activities, Professor Inoue wrote several high impact papers and was awarded one of the top thirty Citation Laureates in Japan by Thomson Scientific in 2000.

Dr. Donald A. Kniffen is a former NASA astrophysicist with the Goddard Space Flight Center. He spent several years in academia and at NASA Headquarters before joining the Universities Space Research Association in 2005. At NASA Headquarters from 1999-2005, he was a discipline scientist for high-energy astrophysics and was Program Scientist for the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO), for the High Energy Transient Explorer (HETE), for the Chandra X-ray Observatory (CXO) for the INTErnational Gamma Ray Laboratory (INTEGRAL) and for the Fermi Gamma Ray Observatory (Fermi). He was recently named the USRA (Universities Space Research Association) Vice President for Science and before that was the Interim Director for Science Mission Operations for SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.  
Dr. Krishnaswamy Kasturirangan received his B.Sc. (Hons) and M.Sc. degrees in Physics from Bombay University. He received his Ph.D. in Experimental High Energy Astronomy in 1971 while working at the Physical Research Laboratory, Ahmedabad. He is currently the Director of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS) at Bangalore. He is Honorary Professor of Physics at the Physical Research Laboratory in Ahmedabad and at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Research in Bangalore. He is also a member of Upper House of Parliament in India and a member of the Indian Government Planning Commission. From 1994 - 2003, Dr. Kasturirangan steered the Indian space program as Chairman of the Indian Space Research Organisation. Under his leadership, the program witnessed several major milestones including the successful launching and operationalisation of India's prestigious launch vehicles, the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle and the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle.

Dr. Bruno Leibundgut is an observational astronomer. He has studied supernova explosions and their applications in cosmology. He participated in one of the two teams discovering the accelerated expansion. After studies at the University of Basel, Switzerland, he held postdoctoral positions at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and the University of California, Berkeley, before joining the European Southern Observatory as Staff Astronomer. At ESO he served in several positions related to the development of the VLT operations model and the implementation of the VLT data flow. He now is ESO's Director for Science.

Dr. Fred K. Y. Lo is the Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) where he also holds the position of Distinguished Astronomer. He was educated at MIT, receiving both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Physics there. Afterwards, he held research and teaching positions at Caltech, UC Berkeley, and the University of Illinois where he became Chair of the Astronomy Department. In 1997, he went to Taiwan to direct the newly formed Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics in the Academia Sinica in Taipei, where he oversaw the construction of two fully equipped antennas for the Submillimeter Array in a partnership with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. He also initiated an effort in experimental Cosmology there. Dr. Lo’s range of research interests include: the compact radio source which arises from the super-massive black hole at the Galactic Center; intergalactic hydrogen and dwarf galaxies; starburst galaxies; high redshift galaxies; and mega-masers and their applications to measuring the black hole mass of Active Galactic Nuclei and to determining the Hubble Constant to high accuracy for a constraint on the nature of Dark Energy.

Dr. Eugene H. Levy is currently provost of Rice University in Houston, Texas, and Professor of Physics & Astronomy. His work has encompassed theoretical planetary geophysics, solar and space physics, and magnetohydrodynamics. He has investigated the generation and behavior of magnetic fields in natural bodies, including Earth, Sun and planets; origin of the geomagnetic reversal; cosmic rays; physical processes involved in the formation of the solar system, stars and other planetary systems. He also worked on the development of observational techniques for the discovery of other planetary systems. Prior to arriving at Rice in 2000, he had served for 25 years on the faculty of the University of Arizona. In addition to his faculty appointment in planetary sciences, he was also affiliated with the faculties of theoretical astrophysics, physics, and applied mathematics. From 1983 to 1994, he was head of the University of Arizona’s Planetary Sciences Department and director of the Lunar & Planetary Laboratory. From 1993 to 2000, he served as dean of the University of Arizona’s College of Science. His holds an A.B. in physics from Rutgers University and a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago.

Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. As an NRC postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York City), he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer (1974-76), and came to GSFC to be the Study Scientist (1976-88), Project Scientist (1988-98), and the Principal Investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE. He and his team showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million, confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy. These findings led to Dr. Mather receiving the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006, along with George Smoot. The COBE team also discovered the cosmic anisotropy (hot and cold spots in the background radiation), now believed to be the primordial seeds that led to the structure of the universe today. Regarding his work, Steven Hawking commented that it was the most important scientific discovery of the century, if not of all time. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science.”  

Dr. Matt Mountain is the current Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute, which is responsible for the science operations and research undertaken with the Hubble Space Telescope, and its planned successor the James Webb Space Telescope to be launched in 2014. He is also the Telescope Scientist for NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, a member of the Webb Science Working Group, a Professor at Johns Hopkins Department of Physics and Astronomy and a Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford (UK). Dr. Mountain was previously the Director of the Gemini Observatory, responsible for construction and operations of two 8-meter Gemini Telescopes on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, and Cerro Pachón in Chile. Dr. Mountain’s background is in physics and astronomy. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1978 and a Ph.D. in astronomy in 1983—both from the Imperial College of Science and Technology, London University. His principle research interests have included star formation in galaxies (including our own), advanced infrared instrumentation, and the capabilities of advanced telescopes.

Dr. Saul Perlmutter is a professor in the University of California, Berkeley's Department of Physics and a senior scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He is the leader of the Supernova Cosmology Project, an international collaboration of research teams from seven countries measuring the expansion history of the universe, and also co-leader of the proposed Supernova Acceleration Probe, a space telescope satellite project. He received his AB from Harvard in 1981 and his Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley in 1986. Professor Perlmutter is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The American Association for the Advancement of Science named the measurements (by the Supernova Cosmology Project and the High-Z SN Search) indicating an accelerating universe "Science Magazine's 1998 Breakthrough of the Year” Dr. Perlmutter is the author of more than 100 papers in the fields of physics, astrophysics, and cosmology. 

Dr. Maria Teresa Ruiz obtained her Ph.D. in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1975. An astronomy professor at Universidad de Chile since 1987, she directs the Center for Astrophysics and Associated Technologies (CATA). Dr. Ruiz received the Chilean National Award for Science in 1997 and has been a member of the Chilean Academy of Science since 1998 and an Honorary Member of the American Astronomical Society since 2005.

Dr. Harvey Tananbaum is Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Chandra X-ray Center (CXC). He was project scientist for the Uhuru x-ray satellite and served as the scientific program manager for the Einstein Observatory, the first large imaging x-ray telescope. Previously, Dr. Tananbaum served for 12 years as the Associate Director for High Energy Astrophysics at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Dr. Tananbaum is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a former vice-president of the American Astronomical Society. In 2004, he was awarded the Bruno Rossi prize of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society. He is a recipient of NASA's Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal, Public Service Award and Medal for Outstanding Leadership. Dr. Tananbaum has a BA in physics from Yale University and a Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Dr. Michael S. Turner is a theoretical astrophysicist and the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. He received his B.S. from Caltech, his M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford (all in physics) and an honorary D.Sc. from Michigan State University. Dr. Turner helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, and led the National Academy study Quarks to the Cosmos that laid out the strategic vision for the field, including NASA and DOE’s Joint Dark Energy Mission (JDEM) which is now in its final planning stages. His scholarly contributions include predicting cosmic acceleration and coining the term dark energy, showing how quantum fluctuations evolved into the seed perturbations for galaxies during cosmic inflation, and several key ideas that led to the cold dark matter theory of structure formation. Dr. Turner also serves as a Director of the Fermi Research Alliance, a member of the Governing Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS Council), and as an Honorary Trustee of the Aspen Center for Physics.


Dr. John P. Huchra is the Robert O. and Holly Thomis Doyle Professor of Cosmology at Harvard University and Senior Advisor to the Provost on Research Policy. He is the President of the American Astronomical Society. He received his B.S. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the California Institute of Technology in 1977. He came to Harvard in 1976 as a CfA Postdoctoral fellow, and joined the faculty as a Professor of Astronomy in 1984. He was named the Robert O. & Holly Thomis Doyle Professor of Cosmology in 2002. Most recently he served Harvard University as the Vice Provost for Research Policy from 2005-2006.  He was an Astronomer, then Senior Astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and served as the Associate Director for Optical and Infrared Astronomy and the Director of the F. L. Whipple Observatory. Professor Huchra is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of both the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His other honors include the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Newcomb Cleveland Award, the Aaronson Prize, the NASA Group Achievement Award for the Two Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS) and the ASP Muhlmann Award also for 2MASS. He is a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Dr. Huchra is best known for his work on observational cosmology, especially the cosmic distance scale (the HST Hubble Constant Key Project) and the first three dimensional maps of large-scale structure in the Universe, the Center for Astrophysics Redshift Survey.

Dr. Adam Burrows is a full professor in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton University. He received his undergraduate degree from the Princeton Physics department and his Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently the Vice-Chair of the National Research Council Board on Physics and Astronomy (BPA), the BPA Liaison to the U.S. Decadal Survey Committee, a member of the AURA board, and on the Board of Trustees of the Aspen Center for Physics. In the past, he served as the chair of the Advisory Board of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) (2006-2007), as the co-chair of the NASA Universe Subcommittee (2004-2005), as the Chair of the NASA Origins Subcommittee (2004-2005), and as the Chair of the Theoretical Astrophysics Program of the University of Arizona (1992-2000), where he was a professor until January 2008. Dr. Burrows works on a broad variety of stellar astrophysics problems and puzzles. His primary current research interests are: the theory of supernova explosions, with a particular focus on the mechanism of explosion and multi-dimensional radiation/hydrodynamic simulations of collapse dynamics; the theory of the atmospheres, spectra, structure, and evolution of extrasolar giant planets (and of exoplanets in general), and its comparison with data; the theory of brown dwarfs in all their particulars; and high-energy astrophysics, with an emphasis on gravitational wave physics, neutrino astrophysics, and gamma-ray line astronomy. Tools and methodologies developed in support of these studies include numerical hydrodynamics, radiative transfer, nuclear and particle physics, chemistry, molecular spectroscopy, equations of state of exotic matter, and magnetohydrodynamics.

Dr. Charles F. Kennel was educated in astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard and Princeton. He joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Department of Physics and Institute for Geophysics and Planetary Physics. His research interest and teaching have been in space plasma physics and astrophysics. Dr. Kennel was chair of the Physics Department and eventually the UCLA Executive Vice Chancellor, its chief academic officer. From 1994 to 1996, he was Associate Administrator at NASA and Director of Mission to Planet Earth, the world's largest Earth science program. Dr. Kennel’s experiences at NASA convinced him of the growing importance of earth and environmental science and he decided to devote the rest of his career to these and related fields. He became the ninth Director and Dean of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Vice Chancellor of Marine Sciences at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), serving from 1998 to 2006. Dr. Kennel was the founding director of the UCSD Environment and Sustainability Initiative. He is presently a Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, of atmospheric sciences at Scripps, senior strategist for the UCSD Sustainability Solutions Institute, and co-leads the University of Cambridge/UCSD Global Water Initiative. Dr. Kennel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the International Academy of Astronautics.


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