ann21032 — Announcement

Michelle Edwards Joins NOIRLab as Associate Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory

Edwards brings extensive experience in observatory leadership roles

8 October 2021

The Mid-Scale Observatories (MSO) program of NSF's NOIRLab is pleased to announce the appointment of Michelle Edwards as Associate Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO). 

Edwards completed her undergraduate studies with a BS in Physics and Astronomy from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania and earned her PhD in Astronomy from the University of Florida. Her thesis work included extensive involvement with the Canarias InfraRed Camera Experiment (CIRCE), a near-infrared instrument for the 10.4-meter Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC).

Edwards is no stranger to the NOIRLab family. As a Gemini Observatory Science Post-Doctoral Fellow, she acted as project lead during the commissioning of the Gemini South Adaptive Optics Imager (GSAOI), the near-infrared imager for use with Gemini’s state-of-the-art multi-conjugate adaptive optics system, GeMS. In this role, Edwards was responsible for managing GSAOI project resources, writing commissioning plans, interfacing with software, science, and engineering teams, and interacting with the Australian National University (ANU) build team. Edwards was also a member of the instrument team for the mid-infrared imager and spectrograph known as the Thermal-Region Camera Spectrograph (T-ReCS) and acted as a contact scientist and queue observer. During her three years in La Serena, Chile, she executed more than 100 nights of queue observing and nighttime commissioning. 

For over nine years, Edwards worked at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory (LBTO) where she most recently served as the Observing Development and Support Lead. In this role, she managed a team of service observers and scientists, directed science operations project work, and interacted with several layers of external advisory and coordinating bodies. Edwards was also a member of the Observatory Council, the internal managerial body at LBTO, and worked with the Director and other executive leads to craft policy, program plans, and long-term strategies. 

As MSO’s Associate Director of KPNO, Edwards will oversee operations at KPNO, requiring coordination of various telescopes and teams on the mountain. We are pleased to welcome Michelle Edwards to the NOIRLab team.  

More information 

NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the international Gemini Observatory (a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory (operated in cooperation with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawai‘i, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O'odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.



Lori Allen
Director, Mid-Scale Observatories 

Amanda Kocz
Press and Internal Communications Officer
Cell: +1 520 318 8591

About the Announcement



Michelle Edwards, Associate Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory
Michelle Edwards, Associate Director of Kitt Peak National Observatory