Today, The Board of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), announced the selection of Dr. Matt Mountain as President, beginning March 1, 2015. Dr. Mountain will succeed Dr. William Smith who served as President since 2000.
In announcing the selection, the Chair of the AURA Board of Directors, Dr. Richard Green, said, "AURA is heading into an exciting period; and Matt has enormous experience in large program and large facility management in ground and space based organizations. This will be a great asset for AURA as we complete construction on the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and the James Webb Space Telescope."
Dr. Mountain is currently the Director of the six hundred person Space Telescope Science Institute, which runs the science operation of the Hubble Space Telescope for NASA, and is preparing for the science operations of JWST. Before that, Dr. Mountain served as Gemini Director from 1999 to 2005, and during the construction phase, he focused on delivering the Gemini Telescope within a tightly constrained budget.
Dr. Smith commented, "The future of AURA is in good hands with Matt. AURA is fortunate to have a person of Matt's experience with major ground-based and space-based facilities to lead AURA in the exciting years ahead."
The AURA Board began the search in November 2013 with the establishment of a special search committee. The Committee sought input from a wide variety of sources and invited applications and nominations. From a field of over 20 highly qualified candidates, the AURA Board selected Dr. Mountain.
In accepting this appointment, Dr. Mountain said "I am looking forward to working with the Board and our impressive Centers on the many challenging, yet exciting opportunities for Astronomy, our community and AURA in the coming years. I believe AURA has a great future, and I feel especially privileged to be chosen to help craft that future in partnership with the AURA Board."
Dr. Mountain is also the Telescope Scientist for JWST, appointed by NASA in 2002, and a member of the JWST Science Working Group. Dr. Mountain is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins University Department of Physics and Astronomy; fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science; and a member of the American Astronomical Society and the International Society for Optical Engineering.
The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) is a consortium of 40 US institutions and 6 international affiliates that operates world-class astronomical observatories. AURA’s role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. In addition, AURA is deeply committed to public and educational outreach, and to diversity throughout the astronomical and scientific workforce. AURA carries out its role through its astronomical facilities.