Jennifer Lotz

Director
Jennifer Lotz headshot

Dr. Jennifer M. Lotz is the director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), an 800-person multi-mission operations center for NASA’s flagship astronomical observatories and a world-class astronomical research center. She provides leadership and vision for all institute activities and champions a science-driven approach to support our missions and the communities we serve. STScI conducts science and flight operations for NASA’s flagship astronomical observatory, the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and science operations for both the iconic Hubble Space Telescope and the upcoming Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. Our fourth mission, the Mikulski Archive for Space Telescopes (MAST), delivers data and enables advancement from these and dozens of other facilities. She will also oversee the development of concepts for a next generation astrophysics flagship mission known as the Habitable Worlds Observatory. As director, Dr. Lotz works closely with government, corporate, academic, international, and public partners to help humanity explore the wonders of the universe with advanced space telescopes and their data archives.

From 2018 to 2024, Dr. Lotz served as the director of the Gemini Observatory, which operates twin 8.1-meter telescopes in Hawai`i and Chile, on behalf of the National Science Foundation and the International Gemini partnership. While there, she led more than 150 staff who are spread across Hawai`i, Chile, and Arizona. She oversaw the development and commissioning of new facility instruments along with instrument upgrades like adaptive optics. She also supported new software infrastructure to bolster time-domain astronomy. She sponsored the NOIRLab Hawai`i education and engagement plan to support Maunakea operations in concordance with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (Astro2020) community astronomy model, and enabled a dual-anonymous proposal review process for the observatories’ time allocation committees, which review scientists’ proposals to observe with the telescopes. She also advanced the Gemini-South Zero-CO2 Emission program to make Gemini-South mountain operations carbon-neutral.

Before this, Dr. Lotz was an associate astronomer with tenure at STScI. She served in a variety of roles and contributed to several large research projects. From 2013 to 2018, she contributed to the institute’s science mission office, where she worked on science policies and supported the time allocation committee for the Hubble Space Telescope. From 2012 to 2016 she led Frontier Fields, a large Hubble program that took very deep images of six galaxy clusters to reveal very distant galaxies and help reconstruct the history of the universe. From 2010 to 2013, she contributed to JWST’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) team. During this period, she simultaneously served as a research scientist at Johns Hopkins University. She also supervised two postdoctoral scholars, three PhD thesis students, and eight additional students.

From 2005 to 2010, she was a Leo Goldberg Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. She started her career as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she used the W. M. Keck Observatory and Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys to study galaxy mergers.

Hallmarks of Dr. Lotz’s career are her contributions to and leadership of large science teams that pursue answers to big questions about the universe. Currently, she is a member of JWST’s Cosmic Evolution Early Release Science Survey (CEERS) and Next Generation Deep Extragalactic Exploratory Public (NGDEEP) surveys. In addition to leading Hubble’s Frontier Fields program earlier in her career, she was also a member of the telescope’s Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey (CANDELS). During her career, she has pioneered the use of realistic numerical simulations of galaxies to interpret deep Hubble and JWST images.

She has published almost 300 papers in a range of publications, including the Astrophysical Journal, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Astronomy and Astrophysics, concentrating on galaxy evolution, galaxy mergers, extragalactic surveys, and the high-redshift universe. She has organized 18 scientific conferences, and presented her work around the world at academic institutions and in professional symposia. She regularly serves as a reviewer for professional journals, national scientific organizations, and other institutions. Dr. Lotz is a member of the American Astronomical Society and the IAU (International Astronomical Union).

Education:

PhD in Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University
AB in Physics and Astronomy, Bryn Mawr College

 

Research Topics: Galaxy Evolution, Galaxy Mergers, Extragalactic Surveys, High-Redshift Universe, Gravitational Lensing, Astro Statistics/Machine Learning, Galaxy Morphology

 

ORCID ID: 0000-0003-3130-5643