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STScI Newsletter
2024 / Volume 41 / Issue 01

About this Article

Ann Jenkins (jenkins[at]stsci.edu) and Shari Lifson

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) recently welcomed Dr. Jennifer Lotz as Director. Dr. Lotz began her five-year appointment on February 12, 2024, succeeding Dr. Nancy Levenson, who served as STScI Interim Director since August 2022. Previously, Dr. Lotz was the Director of the International Gemini Observatory, which is operated by the National Science Foundation’s NOIRLab and managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

"I am honored to be rejoining STScI as its next Director. The Institute’s work on Hubble and JWST has been an inspiration for the world," said Dr. Lotz. "I am also excited to partner with NASA to drive forward a new era of scientific discovery with the new generation of space telescopes — JWST, Roman, and the Habitable Worlds Observatory."

Dr. Lotz was chosen from a pool of highly qualified candidates by a selection committee of respected leaders in the field of astronomy. Her proven leadership skills as the Director of the Gemini Observatory, her research experience, and her knowledge of the challenges the field of astronomy faces were some of the qualifications that led to her selection.

"Dr. Lotz is a science-driven, accomplished leader," said Dr. Matt Mountain, President of AURA, which manages STScI on behalf of NASA. "Jen’s passion for the Institute’s mission, to enable the science community in its exploration of the ground-breaking science coming from both JWST and Hubble, and her compelling vision, will ensure an exciting future as she leads STScI into a new era of space science."

Specializing in galaxy evolution and morphology, the high-redshift universe, and gravitational lensing. Dr. Lotz received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 2003. Before her appointment as Gemini Director, she was a tenured associate astronomer at STScI with a joint appointment as a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University. She was also a Leo Goldberg Fellow at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Santa Cruz.

A leading expert in the field of galaxy mergers, Dr. Lotz uses both ground-based and space-based telescopes to track the growth of galaxies over cosmic time. She led the Hubble Frontier Fields program, one of the largest programs undertaken with Hubble to detect the faintest, most distant galaxies seen at that time. She continues her study of galaxies at the edge of the universe as part of the JWST Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science and Next-Generation Deep Extragalactic Exploratory Public survey teams.

"The next few years will be transformative for STScI and astronomy," noted Dr. Lotz. "I'm thrilled to be working with the STScI team to continue expanding our understanding of the universe."

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