Dr. Kristen McQuinn will assume her new role in January 2024.
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) has appointed Dr. Kristen McQuinn as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Mission Head. She will assume this role in mid-January 2024, following Dr. Cristina Oliveira’s six-month tenure as Interim Roman Mission Head. Prior to Oliveira, Dr. Roeland van der Marel, now on research sabbatical, served as Roman Mission Head for nine years. McQuinn will be responsible for the continued development and operations of the Roman Science Operations Center at STScI.
The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) has appointed Dr. Kristen McQuinn as the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Mission Head. She will assume this role in mid-January 2024, following Dr. Cristina Oliveira’s six-month tenure as Interim Roman Mission Head. Prior to Oliveira, Dr. Roeland van der Marel, now on research sabbatical, served as Roman Mission Head for nine years.
McQuinn will be responsible for the continued development and operations of the Roman Science Operations Center at STScI. With a launch commitment no later than May 2027, and launch currently planned for late 2026, the Roman Space Telescope will have a five-year prime mission.
“I am extraordinarily pleased to have Dr. McQuinn join us at STScI. She is a creative and productive scientist who thinks broadly about fundamental questions,” said Nancy Levenson, interim director of STScI. “Her distinguished career has primed her to lead our efforts to deliver the full scientific capability that Roman promises for the entire astronomy community.”
Roman will provide a panoramic field of view that is 200 times greater than Hubble's infrared view, leading to wide-field maps of the universe at space-based resolution. Roman will combine the power of imaging and spectroscopy to probe the nature of dark matter and dark energy, as well as a range of astrophysical and planetary science topics.
“The Roman Space Telescope will be transformative – we’ve never had a telescope like this before,” said McQuinn. “I look forward to connecting with the broader astronomical community, facilitating open access to Roman’s data, and ultimately getting the best possible science out of the telescope.”
McQuinn is currently an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey. She began her career as a mechanical engineer and worked in industry for about a decade before obtaining her Ph.D. in Astrophysics in 2010. Her honors include being selected as a 2023 Kavli Fellow and 2023 Cottrell Scholar.
Her science research focuses on the formation and evolution of low-mass galaxies. She studies how such galaxies assemble and grow with time, how they are impacted by their environment, and how they become enriched with chemical elements by generations of stars.
STScI is also home to the Science Operations Center for the Hubble Space Telescope, and the Science and Mission Operations Centers for the James Webb Space Telescope.
“Roman is following in the footsteps of Hubble and Webb. These observatories are very different, but they have complementary goals and capabilities. I expect Roman to be as successful and revolutionary as its predecessors,” said McQuinn.
The Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope is managed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with participation by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech/IPAC in Southern California, the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, foreign partners, and science teams comprising scientists from various research institutions. The primary industrial partners are Ball Aerospace and Technologies Corporation in Boulder, Colorado; L3Harris Technologies in Melbourne, Florida; and Teledyne Scientific & Imaging in Thousand Oaks, California.
The Space Telescope Science Institute is expanding the frontiers of space astronomy by hosting the science operations center of the Hubble Space Telescope, the science and mission operations centers for the James Webb Space Telescope, and the science operations center for the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. STScI also houses the Barbara A. Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST) which is a NASA-funded project to support and provide to the astronomical community a variety of astronomical data archives, and is the data repository for the Hubble, Webb, Roman, Kepler, K2, TESS missions and more. STScI is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.