[Paul Vanden Bout, 2007]
Paul Vanden Bout, 2007. NRAO/AUI image

[Paul Vanden Bout, 1985]
Paul Venden Bout, 1985. NRAO/AUI image

[Paul Vanden Bout at VLA 20th anniversary, 2007]
Paul Vanden Bout, Miller Goss, Jack Lancaster, Jack Campbell, VLA 20th anniversary, 2000. NRAO/AUI image

[4 NRAO directors, 2007]
Lo, Vanden Bout, Roberts, Heeschen - 4 NRAO Directors at NRAO 50th anniversary, 2007. NRAO/AUI image

[Paul Vanden Bout, 2003]
Paul Vanden Bout, 2003. NRAO/AUI image

[GBT dedication, 2000]
GBT dedication, 2000. NRAO/AUI image

[Heeschen, Roberts, Vanden Bout, 1986]
Heeschen, Roberts, Vanden Bout, 1986. AUI image

[VLBA dedication, 1993]
VLBA dedication, 1993. NRAO/AUI image


Finding Aid to the Papers of Paul A. Vanden Bout, 1983-2006


Location of collection: National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Archives, 520 Edgemont Rd., Charlottesville, VA. Phone: 1-434-296-0203, email: archivist at nrao.edu

Title and dates of the collection: Papers of Paul A. Vanden Bout, 1983-2006

Size of the collection: 6.5 linear feet

Papers/Records created by: Vanden Bout, Paul A. (1939- )

Short description of collection: Paul A. Vanden Bout served as NRAO Director from January 1985 through May 2002. This collection includes his papers from the 1983 Advisory Committee on Site Selection for the VLBA Operations Center, as well as his working papers on the Millimeter Array (1990-2002) and the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (1982-2005). Official MMA and ALMA papers from his time as NRAO Director are included in the Records of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.


Selected search terms:

  • Vanden Bout, Paul A. (1939- )
  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory (U. S.)
  • Very Long Baseline Array
  • Millimeter Array
  • Atacama Large Millimeter Array


Biography: Paul Adrian Vanden Bout was born on 16 June 1939 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received his A.B. from Calvin College in 1961 and his Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley, in 1966. After post-doctoral fellowships at University of California, Berkeley, and at Columbia University, he taught at Columbia from September 1968-June 1970. He joined the astronomy faculty at University of Texas at Austin in July 1970, and was Professor of Astronomy from September 1979 through December 1984, Associate Director for Millimeter Wave Science 1975-1984, and Chair of the Department of Astronomy from 1978-1982.

Vanden Bout became Director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory on 1 January 1985 and served until 31 May 2002. At the time he became Director, the VLBA project was in the final stages of approval. The Report of Subcommittee on Millimeter- and Submillimeter- Wavelength Astronomy, chaired by Alan Barrett, had just identified the need for a large millimeter array. Vanden Bout's directorship included the construction of both the VLBA and the GBT, the linkage of the VLBA Pie Town antenna with the VLA, planning for and initiation of the EVLA project, the undertaking of the NVSS and FIRST surveys, the design and development of the MMA, and the evolution of the MMA into ALMA. He played a key role in forging the ALMA partnership, and funding for ALMA construction was approved before he stepped down as Director.

He was a Senior Scientist at NRAO from 2003 until his retirement on 30 September 2010, and during that time served also as Interim Director for ALMA from June 2002 through March 2003, and Interim Head of the North American ALMA Science Center from June 2004 through December 2005.

Vanden Bout's scientific interests center on spectroscopy of interstellar molecules, in particular, the derivation of the physical properties of star-forming interstellar clouds from molecular spectroscopy. His research includes studies of individual molecular clouds in the Milky Way and studies of infrared-luminous galaxies in which stars are forming at high rates. The latter can be seen to high redshifts and molecular spectroscopy provides a means of studying the evolution of galaxies at early epochs in the Universe.

Vanden Bout served on visiting committees for STScI, IRAM, NRO, MPIfR, ANTF, and NAIC, and, before becoming NRAO Director, as chair of the Advisory Committee on Site Selection for the VLBA Operations Center and on both the Users and Visiting Committees of NRAO. He has been a member of the LIGO Program Advisory Committee, the NAS Committee on Radio Frequencies, the NSF Astronomy Advisory Committee, the American Astronomical Society Council, various AAS committees, as a vice-president of AAS 2005-2008, and as a member of the Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics for the 2010-2020 decade.

Vanden Bout is a member of the American Astronomical Society, the International Astronomical Union, International Union of Radio Science Commission J, and is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

[Biographical note written by Ellen N. Bouton, based on Vanden Bout's curriculum vitae, Martha P. Haynes' January 2002 NRAO Newsletter article, and contributions from Vanden Bout.]


Accession history: Papers on the Advisory Committee on Site Selection for the Operations Center of the Very Long Baseline Array were donated to the NRAO Archives in December 2009. Material on the MMA and ALMA was donated in February 2010.


Access to collection: No restrictions. The Archives are open part-time; contact the Archivist for appointment.


Restrictions on use of collection: None.


Publication rights: Copyright has been assigned to The National Radio Astronomy Observatory. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Archivist.


Preferred citation: [Identification of item, box, and file], Papers of Paul A. Vanden Bout. Archives, National Radio Astronomy Observatory / Associated Universities, Inc. / National Science Foundation. After the initial citation, abbreviations may be used: P.A. Vanden Bout Papers, NRAO Archives, NRAO/AUI/NSF.


Processing notes: Arrangement, description, indexing, foldering and boxing of the VLBA material was done in January 2010 by Ellen N. Bouton and of the MMA and VLBA material in spring 2011 by Evelyn Braintwain and Ellen N. Bouton. During the processing, photocopies were made to replace thermofax sheets and newspaper clippings, fasteners were removed, and materials were removed from binders of various types. Duplicates were discarded.


Scope and Contents of Collection

Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) Series: This series includes materials gathered by Paul A. Vanden Bout between October 1983 and January 1984 when he served as chair of the Advisory Committee on Site Selection for the Operations Center of NRAO's Very Long Baseline Array. The Committee met on 14 November and on 12 December 1983, and heard presentations from proponents of Charlottesville VA, Tucson AZ, and Socorro or Albuquerque NM. Materials include Committee correspondence, notes on presentations to the Committee, letters from university administrators, politicians, and members of the astronomical community, information packets on the three locations under consideration, and the final report of the Committee. At the time he chaired the Committee, Dr. Vanden Bout was a member of the astronomy faculty at the University of Texas, Austin. Size: 0.5 linear feet. Related materials: Other materials on the VLBA may be found in the Records of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Papers of Marshall Cohen, the Papers of Kenneth I. Kellermann, and the Papers of A. Richard Thompson.


Millimeter Array (MMA) Series: The first U.S. community science workshops on the design of a synthesis array for millimeter-wave astronomy were held in 1983 and continued through 1989. In July 1990 the National Radio Astronomy Observatory submitted a proposal for a millimeter array to the National Science Foundation (NSF), and in 1991 the decadal report of the National Research Council's Astronomy Survey Committee recommended the Millimeter Array as the highest priority ground-based astronomy project for the 1990s. Planning and site research began at NRAO, in November 1994 National Science Board (NSB) approved a project development plan for the MMA and endorsed further planning, and in May 1998 the NSB authorized the expenditure of $26M for a three-year MMA design and development program. In June 1999, the NSF signed a Memorandum of Understanding with European institutions for a joint design and development phase of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a project that joined the MMA with the European Large Southern Array project. This series includes correspondence, meeting proceedings, reports, and other documents related to the planning and design of the MMA. Material is dated 1990-2002. Vanden Bout's original folder titles have been retained. Size: 1.0 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections. Related materials: See also MMA materials in the Records of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, the Papers of David E. Hogg, and the Papers of Mark A. Gordon. Researchers should note that material relevant to the MMA is included with materials on ALMA and vice versa, both in these papers and in other collections.


Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Series: The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomy facility, is a partnership of Europe, North America and East Asia in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded in Europe by the European Organization for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO), in North America by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) in cooperation with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the National Science Council of Taiwan (NSC) and in East Asia by the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in cooperation with the Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan. ALMA construction and operations are led on behalf of Europe by ESO, on behalf of North America by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which is managed by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI) and on behalf of East Asia by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ). The Joint ALMA Observatory (JAO) provides the unified leadership and management of the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA. ALMA is located in the Atacama desert of northern Chile, the driest place on the planet and one of the world's best sites for observational astronomy. At an elevation of 16,500 feet above sea level, the ALMA telescope is the highest observatory on Earth. Ground-breaking for ALMA was in 2003. When it is completed, it will include at least 66 radio telescopes that can be moved to span 10 miles of desert, creating nearly 71,000 square feet of radio light collecting area.

This series includes notes, correspondence, reports, meeting proceedings and minutes, personal journal records, and other materials related to the design, development, and construction of ALMA. Material is dated 1982-2005. Vanden Bout's original folder titles have been retained. Size: 5.0 linear feet. Click here for a listing of folders, or use the NRAO Archives online catalog to search for specific items or across multiple series/collections. Related materials: See also ALMA materials in the Records of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Papers of Mark A. Gordon. Researchers should note that material relevant to the ALMA is included with materials on the MMA and vice versa, both in these papers and in other collections.


Journals and Calendars Series: This series includes general journals and calendars kept by Vanden Bout. Journals include one for November 1985-October 1988, one for 2001, and one on the 300 foot telescope collapse and replacement covering 12 December 1988-27 June 1989. Calendars include pocket calendars for 1985-1994 and 1996-1997, and desk calendars for 1985-1991, 1994-1999, and 2006. Size: 0.5 linear feet plus one 24.5"x18.5"x3" box.

Modified on Tuesday, 19-May-2015 14:54:05 EDT by Ellen Bouton, Archivist (Questions or feedback)