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Roeland van der Marel

Astronomer with Tenure
A white man faces the camera, smiling. His dark hair is buzzed. He is wearing a formal blue shirt, a purple tie, and dark blue suit jacket. The image is cropped at the chest.

Dr. Roeland van der Marel serves as an astronomer with tenure at the institute, and is also an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

At the institute, Dr. van der Marel served from 2014 to 2023 as the head of the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope’s Science Operations Center, which includes the mission’s planning and scheduling system, the data processing system for its Wide Field Instrument, and the data archive. He led the telescopes group from 2006 to 2014, which was responsible for supporting the telescope optics development for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) and the preparations for its alignment and guiding. From 2002 to 2005, he led the team that was responsible for the calibration and user support of the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). He joined the institute in 1997 as a Giacconi Fellow, and then for several years was a scientist within the institute’s science policies division. After earning his doctorate, he spent three years as a Hubble Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

He has extensive astronomical observing experience on space- and ground-based telescopes, with a focus on using Hubble, Webb, and Gaia for studies of the dynamics of galaxies and the presence of black holes at their centers. He leads the Hubble Space Telescope Proper Motion (HSTPROMO) collaboration, which aims to improve understanding of stars, clusters, and galaxies in the nearby universe through measurement of their proper motions. He has published hundreds of papers and book contributions on these and other topics, with over 20,000 citations. His articles have appeared in the Astronomical Journal, the Astrophysical Journal, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Nature.

Dr. van der Marel has also participated in more than 20 institute and NASA press releases on astronomical discoveries as a lead or co-investigator, which received wide international news coverage. He has given some 200 talks at astronomical institutes and international conferences, including American Astronomical Society (AAS) Meetings and IAU (International Astronomical Union) Symposia. He has received various awards for his work, including the Top Prize of the Pirelli Awards for internet-based science communication and the Achievement Award from the American Immigration Law Foundation. ranked him among the world’s top 1,000 scientists in physics. He is a member of the AAS, the IAU, the European Astronomical Society, and the Royal Dutch Astronomical Society. He has also served on a range of science advisory committees for the AAS and NASA.


PhD in Astronomy, Leiden University
MS in Astronomy, Leiden University
MS in Mathematics, Leiden University
BS in Astronomy, Leiden University
BS in Mathematics, Leiden University

Science/Research Interests:

  • Black Holes

  • Dark Matter

  • Galaxy Evolution

  • Galaxy Structure

  • Globular Clusters

  • Optical/Infrared Observational Astronomy

  • Proper Motions

  • Resolved Stellar Populations

  • Theoretical Dynamics


Research Topics: Star Formation, Histories, and Evolution; Supermassive Black Holes; Local Group Galaxies; Galaxy Formation and Evolution; Stellar Populations; Star Clusters; Resolved Stellar Populations


Professional Websites:

Professional Website

HSTPROMO Collaboration

Black Holes - Gravity's Relentless Pull


ORCID ID: 0000-0001-7827-7825


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