This is an exciting and challenging time at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). Through the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) and Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA) projects, the NRAO is involved in designing and building new centimeter, millimeter, and sub-millimeter wavelength research facilities which will open scientific frontiers. Observatory personnel also continue to meet the challenge of developing new capabilities and operations modes for our existing facilities, improving the scientific productivity of the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), the Very Large Array (VLA), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA).
Important transitions are taking place throughout our community to enable this era of progress. Associated Universities, Inc., (AUI) is the not-for-profit science management corporation that operates the NRAO under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Science Foundation. After the October 21 – 22, 2004 meeting of the AUI Board of Trustees, Dr. Riccardo Giacconi will step down as President of AUI. On behalf of everyone at the Observatory, I want thank Dr. Giacconi for his leadership and support of the NRAO, its mission, and its people. Dr. Giacconi led AUI and the NRAO through major organizational improvements and changes in the scope of the Observatory’s mission, including the completion of the GBT and the initiation of the construction phase of the ALMA and EVLA projects. Dr. Giacconi’s legacy is a remarkable tribute to the strength of his scientific vision and leadership. Dr. Giacconi will remain active in the astronomy community, becoming a University Professor at Johns Hopkins University, where he expects to continue his long research career.
Immediately after the October AUI Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Ethan Schreier will begin his term as AUI President. Dr. Schreier is a distinguished scientist and manager with a broad range of experience. He has held senior positions at the Einstein X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope, and at AUI, where he has most recently been Executive Vice President. I look forward to working closely with Ethan in his new role. I am confident that his term as AUI President will also be one of great accomplishment. Another important transition is taking place in the NRAO Director’s Office: Jim Condon has agreed to serve as Interim Deputy Director for six months beginning September 1, 2004. Jim Condon takes over from Dave Hogg, who stepped down from this position at the end of August.
Dave Hogg has been an outstanding Deputy Director, and we will miss him in that position. The good news is that Dave has kindly agreed to continue to consult with the Director’s Office after August, even as he spends more time doing research. I know that everyone will join me in thanking Dave for his more than forty years of dedication to the Observatory’s well-being, and for his valuable service as Deputy Director over the past 14 months.
Jim Condon received tenure as a member of the NRAO scientific staff in 1981. He is an outstanding scientist, with a distinguished and internationally-recognized research record who knows the Observatory very well. Most recently, in his role as Project Scientist for the GBT Precision Telescope Control System, Jim has been a key contributor. Jim’s intellect, experience, and judgment will undoubtedly be of great value to the Director’s Office.
Fostering closer ties between the NRAO and the astronomical community is a high priority. The enhanced 2005 Jansky Fellowship Program provides outstanding research opportunities for young astronomers, on par with those available through the Hubble and Chandra Fellowship Programs. Jansky Fellowships can be held at all NRAO sites, and appointments may also be held at U.S. universities.
In consultation with its user community, the NRAO has initiated a program to support astronomical research at the GBT by graduate and undergraduate students at U.S. universities. This program offers substantial financial support and strengthens the proactive role of the Observatory in training new generations of telescope users. The Observatory has seen excellent community response to this GBT program and hopes to soon initiate a similar program for the VLA and VLBA.
Through the enhanced NRAO Visitors Program, the Observatory encourages Ph.D. scientists and engineers in radio astronomy and related fields to visit its facilities. The terms of a visit are negotiable, ranging in duration from weeks to months. The purpose of a visit can be interaction with NRAO staff, summer research, or a sabbatical.
The NRAO sees the challenges of the present as necessary and welcome steps toward the scientific opportunities of the future. The Observatory’s people are proud of what they have accomplished and confident of their ability to design, operate, and maintain the facilities demanded by the extraordinary scientific enterprise that is modern astronomy.
K. Y. Lo