UW Astronomy Professor to Lead Rubin Observatory Project

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Zeljko Ivezic professor of astronomy at the University of Washington

Professor of Astronomy Željko Ivezić has been appointed as the next Director of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory Construction Project. Ivezić’s appointment began January 1, 2022 following the departure of current director, Steve Kahn.

The Rubin Observatory project continues to take shape on the Cerro Pachón ridge of north-central Chile. When completed, the observatory will conduct a deep survey of an enormous area of sky. According to the project website, the project’s 10-year Legacy Study of Space and Time (LSST) “will address some of the most pressing questions about the structure and evolution of the universe and the objects in it.” Ivezić has been associated with the LSST project since its inception in the early 2000’s.  In 2018, he became Deputy Director of the LSST Construction Project in addition to Project Scientist. 

"Over the past two decades, our department has been working to be a leader in big data and survey Astronomy,” said Thomas Quinn, chair of the Department of Astronomy. “We are proud of Professor Ivezić’s larger role in this project of national priority, and we view his appointment as the natural outcome of his work and leadership over the years."

As Project Scientist, Ivezić has been primarily responsibility for ensuring that the design and construction of the LSST system will be optimized for its scientific mission. In this capacity, he has chaired the Project Science Team, and played a major role in both internal and external reviews of the project. Ivezić brings a wealth of expertise and experience in survey astronomy in a variety of fields ranging from solar system science to studies of the structure of the Milky Way and cosmology.

“The University of Washington is one of four founding institutions for the Rubin Observatory project,” said Ivezić. “UW has been playing a major role in Rubin construction for close to two decades and, as a faculty member, I am very excited about leading Rubin construction to its triumphant conclusion.”

“UW Astronomy researchers play a tremendous role in advancing knowledge and scientific practice,” said Daniel Pollack, divisional dean of the Natural Sciences. “As the LSST prepares to draw first light, it is tremendously exciting to anticipate what we may learn from its observations. Congratulations to Professor Ivezić for his excellent work on the LSST, and his appointment as Director of the Rubin Observatory Project.”

In taking on this expanded role, Ivezić will be on a partial leave of absence from his faculty appointment at the University of Washington.

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