Walker Named Director of Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory
14 November 2003
Dr. Alistair Walker has been confirmed by the AURA Observatories Council as the new director of Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in La Serena, Chile.
Walker succeeds Dr. Malcolm Smith, who steps down as CTIO director after 10 years of service leading a diverse observatory that provides U.S. astronomers with competitive access to the skies of the southern hemisphere, as part of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).
Smith will continue as head of the AURA Observatory in Chile, an organization that provides operational support for both CTIO and the Gemini South telescope. Smith also plans to remain active in promoting effective dark skies legislation around the world, and he will return to more active astronomical research.
“Malcolm passes a transformed institution on to his successor, with a newly developed site at Cerro Pachón for Gemini South and the soon-to-debut SOAR 4-meter telescopes, and a campus with twice the scientific staff present in 1993,” says NOAO Director Dr. Jeremy Mould. “I expect that Alistair will have a similar impact as he works to integrate emerging projects such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope and the Giant Segmented Mirror Telescope into the vibrant research environment at CTIO.”
Walker, 55, has served as deputy director of CTIO since 2000, and has been a member of its scientific staff since 1987. Before that, he spent seven years at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), after being a junior staff member at CTIO from 1977-1979.
He is known scientifically for his work on the astronomical distance scale, and for his close association with CCD camera development, from the early days of these detectors through to their present wide-field imaging capabilities.
“I see the primary function of the CTIO director as providing the scientific leadership necessary to enhance the organization’s capabilities as a working observatory,” Walker says. “I also place a high priority on working together with the associate directors and other managers of NOAO programs to ensure efficient and integrated operations across both hemispheres in developing new facilities and instruments.”
Based in Tucson, AZ, NOAO consists of three major divisions: CTIO, Kitt Peak National Observatory (located southwest of Tucson) and the NOAO Gemini Science Center. NOAO also builds advanced astronomical instruments and develops related technology, such as software and detectors. It is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc., under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
Public Information OfficerNational Optical Astronomy Observatory