The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and University of Arizona have announced the appointment of Dr. Faith Vilas as the new director of the MMT Observatory at Mount Hopkins, Ariz. Dr. Vilas is a planetary scientist with extensive experience using ground- and space-based observatories.
"The search committee was impressed by Dr. Vilas' administrative experience and knowledge of astronomical instrumentation," says Charles Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "We're confident in her ability to articulate an ambitious vision for the MMTO."
"I am very excited by the opportunity to serve the MMT Observatory - the new 6.5-meter telescope with its extensive complement of instrumentation represents some of the finest facilities that astronomy has today," says Vilas.
Dr. Vilas will take up her new responsibilities at the MMTO in December 2005.
Dr. Vilas comes to the MMTO from NASA's Johnson Space Center where she is a major participant in the space mission Hayabusa, which will return samples of the asteroid Itokawa to Earth.
Faith Vilas received her B.A. in Astronomy from Wellesley College in 1973 and a M.S. in Earth and Planetary Sciences from M.I.T. in 1975. After completing a Ph.D. degree in Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona in 1984, she joined the staff of the Johnson Space Center.
The MMT Observatory is a joint venture of the Smithsonian Institution and the University of Arizona, located on the grounds of the Fred L. Whipple Observatory. This innovative facility has recently been converted to house a single 6.5-meter mirror.
Headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA) is a joint collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory. CfA scientists, organized into six research divisions, study the origin, evolution and ultimate fate of the universe.