Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Announcing the new Director of the Large Binocular Telescope

The Large Binocular Telescope Observatory, one of the largest and most advanced optical telescopes in the world, is proud to announce the appointment of its new Director, Prof. Joseph Shields, who will assume the position effective June 06, 2022.

Prof. Joseph Shields
Dr. Shields is currently Vice President for Research & Creative Activity and Dean of the Graduate College and the former Chair of the Department of Physics & Astronomy at  Ohio University.

Dr. Shields received his bachelors degree from the University of Kansas and his PhD in Astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley. He held a postdoctoral appointment at the Ohio State University and a Hubble Fellowship at the University of Arizona prior to joining the faculty at Ohio University. In his research, Shields studies the physics  of  supermassive black holes in galaxies, using both ground-based and space-based observatories. He is also interested  in the interstellar medium, star formation,  and supernovae. He is an author on more than 110 papers in the peer-reviewed literature, and served for four years as a Scientific Editor of the Astrophysical Journal.

The LBT Board of Directors appointed Prof. Shields to serve as the Observatory’s new director following an extensive international search.

“We are excited to welcome Joe and look forward to working with him to maintain the prominent position of LBT as a world-class astronomical facility,” stated Adriano Fontana, Chair of the LBT Board of Directors. “Joe has a unique combination of astronomical experience, scientific vision and managerial capabilities that make him the perfect match for LBT. Joe will build on the unique role of LBT in fostering new astronomical discoveries and the development of cutting-edge observational techniques associated with adaptive optics and interferometry.“

In accepting the Director position, Shields commented: “I am pleased and honoured to have the opportunity to lead the talented LBTO staff during the observatory’s next phase as a pioneer in the realm of extremely large optical telescopes.  The LBT has a storied history and vibrant future in technological innovation and astronomical discovery, enabled by the distinctive expertise of its partner institutions.”

The LBT Board of Directors also extended its appreciation to Dr. Christian Veillet, who successfully led the Observatory during the last ten years, completing the installation and commissioning of the initial suite of scientific instruments.

LBT is a unique astronomical facility. Located on Mt. Graham in southeast Arizona, at an elevation of 3200m/10000 ft, the LBT has  two 8.4m (27.5 feet) mirrors  side-by-side like a pair of binoculars for a combined collecting area of a single 11.8m (38.7 feet) telescope. This unique design gives it the capabilities of a 23-m (75.5 feet) telescope in some observing modes, making it the first of the next-generation extremely large telescopes.

The LBT is an international collaboration among institutions in the United States, Italy and Germany. LBT Corporation partners are: The University of Arizona on behalf of the Arizona Board of Regents; Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy; LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Germany, representing the Max-Planck Society, The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, and Heidelberg University; The Ohio State University, representing OSU, University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota and University of Virginia.

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