AUI Board of Trustees Elects Christine Wilson as Board Chair and William Harris as Vice Chair

Picture of Board Chair Vice Chair

AUI Board of Trustees Elects Christine Wilson as
Board Chair 
and William Harris as Vice Chair

Washington, D.C.— The AUI Board of Trustees met at AUI’s Dunn Loring office in Vienna, VA September 22 and 23. Following President Adam Cohen’s overview of AUI, and reports from the Board and Governance Committees, the Board approved the FY 2023 AUI Corporate budget, elected Christine Wilson and William Harris to serve as the next Board Chair and Vice Chair of the AUI Board, and appointed new Trustee Jay Marx, Former Executive Director of the LIGO Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.

Professor Christine Wilson is an internationally recognized expert in the study of gas and star formation in nearby galaxies. She has been involved in the design and development of the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array since its inception in 1999 and was also a member of the SPIRE instrument team for the Herschel Space Observatory. During her more than 20-year career at McMaster University, Professor Wilson has supervised 9 Ph.D. Students and 5 postdoctoral fellows.

William (Bill) Harris is a Director of Innovation Advisory Partners after serving as the founding Director General of Science Foundation Ireland (2001-2006) and, then Science Foundation Arizona (2006-2020). Prior to Ireland, he was Vice President of Research and Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Harris served as Assistant Director of the Columbia University Earth Institute and President of the Biosphere 2 Center, which became a western campus of Columbia.

After the election and appointment, the Board heard updates on government affairs from Federal Science Partners and Cornerstone. In the afternoon NRAO Director, Tony Beasley and Deputy Director, Phil Jewell provided an update on the Radio Astronomy Division, followed by closed sessions.

The Trustee dinner on Wednesday evening and the reception on Thursday evening provided an opportunity for the Trustees to discuss business topics and meet with colleagues from the National Science Foundation (NSF), stakeholders from various organizations that support AUI’s work, collaborators, and individuals with whom AUI hopes to build collaborations or may be sponsors of future AUI research activities.

The second day of meetings included Dr. Cohen’s incubator Initiatives and energy portfolio updates, followed by updates on cyber/E-Learning and STEM Initiatives. Board members ending their terms were recognized and honored for their service. The meeting concluded with Board discussions in a closed executive session.

NRAO Director Tony Beasley Appointed to New Five-Year Term

 

Dr. Tony Beasley, Director of the National Science Foundation’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), has been appointed to a new five-year term. The Board of Trustees for AUI— which operates NRAO under a cooperative agreement— and the NRAO Director Review Committee conducted a thorough review of Beasley’s leadership and performance earlier this year, and have appointed the Director to the new term through May 2027.

 

“Tony is an outstanding leader and stalwart champion for NRAO, the field of radio astronomy, the beauty of science, and the critical role of big facilities in the R&D ecosystem,” said Adam Cohen, President and CEO of AUI, which operates NRAO under a cooperative agreement. “He continues to support very innovative education and outreach programs to help build the workforce of the future, as well as programs and activities to enhance diversity, equity, and inclusion in our workplaces.” 

 

Over the course of more than two decades, Beasley’s leadership has shaped the present and future of NRAO’s leading-edge radio astronomy facilities, including the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and Very Large Array (VLA). More recently, he has collaborated on efforts to encourage cooperation between commercial spectrum users and research facilities and has created partnerships to explore the use of Green Bank Observatory’s radar systems in planetary science and defense applications. 

 

Beasley recently has generated significant support for the future of NRAO’s facilities, reaching major milestones in 2021. The observatory’s proposed next generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) received high priority for new ground-based observatories in the U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey (Astro2020). Late last year, NRAO’s Central Development Laboratory (CDL) received approval and funding through the ambitious ALMA2030 Development Plan to upgrade its Band 6 receivers, which are ALMA’s most productive receivers. 

 

An ardent supporter of diversity, equity, and inclusion in astronomy and astrophysics, Beasley has elevated the efforts of NRAO’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Broader Impacts, and community development initiatives, including the National Astronomy Consortium (NAC), RADIAL, National and International Non-traditional Exchange (NINE), Research Experiences for Undergraduate students (REU), and most recently, grants for women in engineering fellowships and the development of a next generation Learning Center (ngLC). 

 

“Being a part of NRAO for more than 20 years has given me the opportunity to observe, contribute to, and lead growth and change in astronomy that positively impacts our facilities and allows us to collaborate with other like-minded institutions,” said Beasley. “I am proud of the work our teams have accomplished in research, engineering, outreach, and equity, and look forward to serving the NRAO community for another five years.”

 

Beasley, who holds a Doctorate in Astrophysics from the University of Sydney, was first appointed as NRAO Director in February 2012, after previously serving the observatory and the radio astronomy community in multiple capacities. He joined NRAO as a Postdoctoral Fellow in 1991 and served as Deputy Assistant Director in 1997 and Assistant Director from 1998 to 2000. He briefly left NRAO that year to become Project Manager for the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA). In 2004, he returned to NRAO as Assistant Director, as well as Project Manager for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile. From 2008 to 2012, Beasley served as the Chief Operating Officer and Project Manager of NSF’s National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). In addition to his role as NRAO Director, Beasley presently serves as the AUI Vice President for Radio Astronomy Operations. 

 

In January 2022, Beasley was honored as a Lifetime Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of his significant contributions to the field of radio astronomy. 

 

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