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STScI Newsletter
2024 / Volume 41 / Issue 01

About this Article

Christine Pulliam (cpulliam[at]stsci.edu) and Ann Jenkins (jenkins[at]stsci.edu)

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) recently appointed Dr. Kristen McQuinn to the role of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope Mission Head. McQuinn, who joined the Roman Mission Office in mid-January, is responsible for the continued development and operations of the Roman Science Operations Center at STScI.

"It’s a privilege to join STScI and the incredible team of people working in the Science Operations Center on the Roman Space Telescope," said McQuinn. "With less than three years until launch, it’s an exciting time to help lead the Roman mission."

McQuinn was most recently 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.

McQuinn’s appointment to the Roman Mission Office follows 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.

In addition to the appointment of McQuinn as Mission Head, the Roman Mission Office staff now includes:

  • Ariel Bowers - SOC Systems Manager 
  • Gisella de Rosa - Mission Scientist 
  • Ori Fox - Deputy Project Scientist
  • Karoline Gilbert - Project Scientist 
  • Chris Hanley - Mission Engineer 
  • Ron Henry - Project Manager (half-time retirement) 
  • Cristina Oliveira - Deputy Mission Head 
  • Frank Rock - Project Manager
  • Michele Sharko - Administration

The Roman Space Telescope 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. 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.

"Roman Space Telescope observations hold the promise of transformational astrophysics over a vast array of subfields: from providing a census of planets within our own galaxy to mapping the large-scale structure of the universe," said McQuinn. "Roman is also an innovative, community-driven mission, with an open process for the research community to provide input into the core survey designs and an open-access policy to the data, analysis tools, and science platform. I’m looking forward to what we will learn across incredibly diverse areas of astrophysics and from diverse science communities using the Roman Space Telescope."

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