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Lonsdale to head MIT Haystack Observatory

Colin J. Lonsdale
Colin J. Lonsdale

Colin J. Lonsdale, a noted radio astronomer and the principal investigator of the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) project, will become director of the Haystack Observatory, effective Sept. 1.

Claude Canizares, vice president for research and associate provost, announced Lonsdale's appointment and noted that he "brings great scientific, technical and managerial strengths to the directorship, as well as a long history of contributions to the observatory and to the wider radio astronomy community."

Lonsdale succeeds Joseph Salah, who was the director of the observatory from 1983 to 2006, and Alan R. Whitney, who has been serving as interim director.

Lonsdale is a 1978 graduate of St. Andrews University, Scotland. He received a PhD from the University of Manchester in 1981 following thesis research conducted at Nuffield Radio Astronomy Labs, Jodrell Bank, England, on observations of extragalactic radio sources. Following work at Pennsylvania State University, he joined the research staff at Haystack in 1986. In recent years, he has served as principal research scientist and in 2006 became an assistant director at Haystack.

Lonsdale's most recent work has been as principal investigator of the Murchison Widefield Array, an innovative new radio array with powerful capabilities for radio astronomy and heliospheric science at frequencies from 80 to 300 MHz, optimized for extremely wide fields of view and unprecedented sensitivity at those frequencies.

The MWA is located in Western Australia. Alan Whitney has been appointed the project director for the MWA.

MIT Haystack Observatory is an interdisciplinary research center engaged in radio astronomy, geodesy, upper atmospheric physics, and radar applications. The facility is located in Westford, Mass., 40 miles northwest of the MIT campus.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on September 10, 2008 (download PDF).

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