Todd Boroson Will Take Helm Of Las Cumbres Observatory
Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope (LCOGT) announced this week that Dr. Todd Boroson has accepted the role of Director effective August 1, 2013. Dr. Boroson will replace Wayne Rosing, Founder and President, and Tim Brown, Science Director.
Dr. Boroson has served the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) for the last 24 years as director, deputy director and currently as astronomer. NOAO, primarily funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), operates observatories at Kitt Peak near Tucson, Arizona and at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile.
Wayne Rosing stated, “Dr. Boroson brings a wealth of experience managing science as well as engineering to our organization. LCOGT is transitioning rapidly to a research mode and we believe Todd is an ideal leader to move the organization to this new level. I look forward to working with Todd and other scientists to use this unique observatory, which has been a twenty-plus year project.”
Boroson takes over a staff of just over 40 at LCOGT including four full-time astronomers and four post-doctoral students. Facilities include development headquarters in Goleta, California and a telescope operations center in UK. LCOGT observatory nodes presently exist at six sites around the world.
LCOGT, a private non-profit launched in 2005, operates a global, robotic telescope optimized for time domain astrophysics. LCOGT acquired the two 2-meter Faulkes Telescopes in 2005 at Haleakala on Maui and at Siding Spring Observatory in Australia and has conducted astrophysical research and hosted science and educational users on the network since. LCOGT also acquired Telescope Technologies Limited (TTL) in 2005, the Birkenhead, UK firm that designed and built the Faulkes and other 2-meter-plus telescopes.
Since that time, LCOGT has designed and deployed a 1-meter telescope network, primarily in the Southern Hemisphere. The 1-meter network consists of three 1-meter telescopes at CTIO, three at South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), and two at Siding Spring. One 1-meter is located at McDonald Observatory in Texas and is intended as the start of a northern network. A network of 0.4-meter telescopes is planned with the first deployments scheduled for early 2014. A single 0.8-meter telescope is located on the University of California at Santa Barbara Sedgwick Reserve.
“I am excited about LCOGT,” Boroson said. “We are at the start of a new kind of astronomical research, in which understanding how objects change provides a different way to study the universe. The two most important discoveries of the last 20 years – dark energy and exoplanets – both depended on monitoring objects that change. Our understanding of many areas of astronomy will be profoundly changed over the next several decades by the observations from time domain surveys underway or planned.
“LCOGT will play an integral role,” Boroson continued, “as the first large facility designed to focus on this kind of astronomy. The capabilities of LCOGT – both the facility itself and the ideas of the people who have created it – will provide an essential link between the discovery of new objects and the science that tells us what they are. LCOGT will study the entire range of objects in the universe from potentially hazardous asteroids in our solar system to quasars and supernovae at the edge of observable space, including different types of variable stars, gravitational lenses, and exploding objects of different sorts. It is exciting to me to work on a facility that will have that kind of impact over such a broad array of interesting objects and phenomena.”
Boroson’s own research has focused on quasars – how they work, how they evolve over time, and what their effects are on the galaxies in which they live. His work involves large datasets and as a result he has pioneered techniques for data exploration and analysis.
His experience relates directly to LCOGT’s development and operation. In addition to his administrative roles, Dr. Boroson has built astronomical instruments, including a number of imagers that use multiple CCDs – most recently the One Degree Imager for the WIYN Telescope on Kitt Peak – and he was responsible for engaging the U.S. astronomical community in various large efforts, most notably the Gemini Telescopes. He was the US Project Scientist for Gemini for a period of 7 years, while the telescopes were being built. Boroson has also been leading an NSF-funded effort to explore a potential U.S. partnership in the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) slated for completion on Mauna Kea in Hawai’i in 2018.
“Todd Boroson is an outstanding expert in the science of quasars,” Tim Brown noted. “More than that, because of his long experience with the diverse science done at NOAO, he is expert well beyond his own field, including the major scientific threads at LCOGT. Not only will he represent our interests and accomplishments to other scientists and to the public, but he will also lead us in organizing innovative research, pushing our programs from within.”
Wayne Rosing will remain at LCOGT assisting in telescope operations, calibration, computation and educational activities. Rosing also sits on the LCOGT board. Tim Brown will remain at LCOGT as an astronomer, conducting his own research and heading up the Network of Robotic Echelle Spectrographs (NRES) project that will deploy six spectrographs to the 1-meter telescope sites starting next year.
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