Press Release

Astronomer Wendy Freedman Named Director of Carnegie Observatories

By SpaceRef Editor
January 14, 2003
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Wendy L. Freedman has been named director of
the California-based Carnegie Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of
Washington. Regarded among the world’s premier astronomers, she takes her
new post on March 1, succeeding Augustus Oemler, Jr., who will return to
research as a Staff Member of the Observatories.

In making the announcement, Carnegie Institution’s chairman of the board,
Tom Urban, stated: “On behalf of the trustees, we are delighted Dr.
Freedman has agreed to become director. She’s been an invaluable member of
our observatories’ research faculty for almost two decades and her work as
a leader on the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project was extraordinary in
determining the rate at which the universe is expanding.

“We would like to also commend Dr. Oemler for his leadership and are most
pleased that he will be continuing his research at the observatories.”

After earning a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of
Toronto, Dr. Freedman joined Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena as a
postdoctoral fellow in 1984 and became a faculty member of the scientific
staff there three years later. Studies of the extragalactic distance scale,
galactic evolution, and stellar populations have won her such honors as the
Marc Aaronson Lectureship and Prize, The Centennial Lectureship of the
American Physical Society, The Darwin Lectureship of the Royal Astronomical
Society, and the Cosmos Club Award. Last year, she received the American
Philosophical Society’s Magellanic Prize for her leadership in bringing
observational cosmology into the 21st century.

Among scientists saluting Dr. Freedman on her new assignment was Nobel
laureate Joe Taylor, Princeton astrophysicist and former dean of the
faculty. “Wendy Freedman is a superb choice as director–an extremely
capable and imaginative scientist with immense energy and good judgment.”

Added Nobel laureate Leon Lederman: “She integrates all the elements that
make for the heroic scientist: persistence, imagination, a leader, a role
model.Her work on the Hubble Constant is a classic illustration of her
taste for important science and the need for extraordinary care in
understanding the hazards and responsibility for precision–a brand new
element in astrophysics.Lucky Carnegie!”

Dr. Freedman is scheduled to give a public lecture about the expansion of
the universe at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, on March 13. Her talk
is the first in a series of lectures sponsored by the library and Carnegie
Observatories. For more information, contact Nancy N. Davis at 626-304-0270.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington (, a
pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902, is a private,
nonprofit organization with six research departments in the U.S.: Plant
Biology, Global Ecology, Embryology, the Geophysical Laboratory, the
Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, and the Carnegie Observatories.

SpaceRef staff editor.