noirlab1908 — Organization Release

New Director of NSF’s National Optical-infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory

30 September 2019

Vice President of the Giant Magellan Telescope project and Astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science, Patrick McCarthy, has been selected as the new Director of the National Science Foundation National Optical-infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab).

Patrick McCarthy is a world-recognized astronomical leader; his seminal work on galaxy evolution and the high redshift universe earned him wide scientific respect and recognition. Patrick McCarthy will bring significant skills in international collaboration and team building to the NOIRLab. His expertise in incorporating all aspects of scientific research, from data acquisition to advanced data processing and data archiving, will benefit the science operations of the new organization. He has more than thirty years of history with the NOIRLab facilities, both as a frequent observer and as a member of advisory and oversight committees. Patrick McCarthy’s experience with large projects, including developing instruments for Hubble, and his leadership roles in the Giant Magellan Telescope project will be helpful as the NOIRLab charts its path forward for the coming decade and beyond.

Patrick McCarthy commented on his new position, “I am delighted to be part of NOIRLab team in this historic endeavor to unify our national research facilities and strengthen our international partnerships in optical and infrared astronomy. A new world of opportunities is opening up for this generation and those that follow”.

Patrick McCarthy’s appointment was strongly endorsed by the NOIRLab Director Search Committee led by Laura Ferrarese (National Research Council of Canada), as well as by the NOIRLab Management Oversight Council (NMOC) and the AURA Board of Directors.

“We are thrilled to welcome Patrick McCarthy to AURA to lead NOIRLab,” said AURA President Matt Mountain. “His extensive experience, expertise and leadership skills will provide this new organization with an incredible start, and with his team, establish a resilient foundation for the US’s ground-based astronomy program for decades to come.”

Patrick McCarthy will begin his 5-year appointment on 1 October 2019, and initially plans extensive travel to NOIRLab sites to meet all staff. He will be based in Tucson, Arizona. AURA thanks Phil Puxley for providing truly excellent leadership as Interim Director.

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 NSFNRC–CanadaANID–ChileMCTIC–BrazilMINCyT–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 (in cooperation with DOE’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 Hawaiʻi, 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.


Lars Lindberg Christensen
NSF’s National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory
Head of Communications, Education & Engagement
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

Shari Lifson
Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
Corporate Communications Coordinator
Cell: +1 202 769 5232

About the Release

Release No.:noirlab1908
Name:NOIRLab Director