Steve Kahn Named LSST Project Director

Steve Kahn Named LSST Project Director

Washington March 12, 2013 -- AURA announced today that Dr. Steven M. Kahn will assume the role of Director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) Project effective July 1, 2013. Dr. Kahn will succeed Dr. Sidney C. Wolff and retain his current affiliation with SLAC and Stanford.

LSST is the top-ranked large-scale ground-based project for the next decade as recommended by the National Research Council’s Astronomy and Astrophysics decadal survey (Astro2010). By digitally imaging the sky for a decade, the LSST will address the most pressing questions in astronomy and physics, drive advances in big-data science and computing, and create opportunities for transformative STEM education.

In announcing the appointment, Dr. William Smith, President of AURA, said “Steve brings a unique blend of relevant management and scientific experience to this position. He will inherit a strong team and will lead LSST into the construction phase. We will complement the management team in the future by bringing on individuals reflecting the broad range of astronomical capabilities that LSST can address.”

Dr. Kahn has previously served as the Associate Laboratory Director of SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. He has also been the Chair of the Physics Department at Stanford and Columbia Universities, and the Director, Deputy Director, or Associate Director of major interdisciplinary research laboratories at three universities, the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford, the Columbia Astrophysics Laboratory at Columbia, and the Space Sciences Laboratory at Berkeley. He has made significant contributions to X-ray astronomy, specifically with respect to high resolution X-ray spectroscopy of cosmic sources. He was the US Principal Investigator for the development of the Reflection Grating Spectrometer, which is currently flying on the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory.

Dr. Dan Clemens of Boston University, Chair of the AURA Board said “We are extremely fortunate to have Steve Kahn assume the LSST Directorship at this crucial time. He will be able to build on the valuable work that Sidney Wolff as done in bringing LSST to this point.”

LSST is currently in the final stages of its design and development phase and is poised for a new start as early as FY 2014. Dr. David MacFarlane, Director of SLAC Particle Physics and Astrophysics and Chair of the LSSTC Board of Directors, said “Steve Kahn brings an outstanding breadth of scientific credentials in assuming the LSST Director role, along with tremendous project leadership and management experience. Sidney Wolff has provided outstanding leadership in bringing LSST through design and development. Steve is uniquely positioned with NSF and DOE to take on the Directorship as the project makes the all important transition to construction.”

Financial support for Rubin Observatory comes from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through Cooperative Agreement No. 1258333, the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science under Contract No. DE-AC02-76SF00515, and private funding raised by the LSST Corporation. The NSF-funded Rubin Observatory Project Office for construction was established as an operating center under management of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).  The DOE-funded effort to build the the Rubin Observatory LSST Camera (LSSTCam) is managed by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (SLAC).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 to promote the progress of science. NSF supports basic research and people to create knowledge that transforms the future.
NSF and DOE will continue to support Rubin Observatory in its Operations phase. They will also provide support for scientific research with LSST data.   

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