William Sparks Retires from STScID. Soderblom (soderblom[at]stsci.edu)
William ("Bill") Sparks has retired after a long career at STScI. Bill obtained his PhD in the UK in 1982, and began at the Space Telescope Science Institute as a European Space Agency research fellow in 1986, before the launch of Hubble. After two postdoc years, he moved to an AURA staff position, and subsequently worked with Hubble instrumentation for many years, beginning as instrument scientist for the Faint Object Camera. Other positions included NICMOS group lead through its launch, and Deputy Division Head of the Instruments Division.
A particularly eventful role was as project scientist for the Early Release observations for the first Hubble servicing mission, designed to showcase the restored scientific capabilities of the observatory after its optical fix.
Prior to retirement, Sparks worked in the Community Missions Office, most recently on the TESS archive and ground system development. He was a member of the Terrestrial Planet Finder Science Working Group, the Exo-S Starshade Science and Technology Definition Team, and an investigation definition team member for the Advanced Camera for Surveys on Hubble.
William Sparks’s scientific research began with an optical study of the properties of radio galaxies, and the physics of galaxy clusters and their interstellar medium. In recent years, his research has moved into astrobiology, Solar System exploration, exoplanet detection and characterization and the search for life. He showed microbial life can be detected remotely using circular polarization, and invented a new type of polarimeter well-suited to the task.
William Sparks continues to live in Maryland and remains active in research through the SETI Institute, and we wish him well in the years ahead.