Press Release

Eileen Friel Named New Lowell Observatory Director

By SpaceRef Editor
May 4, 2009
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Dr. Eileen Friel has accepted the appointment by Observatory Trustee, William Lowell Putnam, to be the next Director of Lowell Observatory. Dr. Friel will become the tenth Director of the Observatory.

“Lowell is enormously appealing to me. It is a first-rate research environment where my science fits comfortably and would utilize both existing and planned instrumentation. Its public programs are effective, fun, and full of promise. The facilities are beautiful and the tradition of real concern for every member of the staff is wise and responsible. I also have family ties to Flagstaff,” said Dr. Friel. “Lowell Observatory’s partnership with Discovery Communications
has incredible potential. In all the world they are number one at explaining science. Lowell produces fascinating science and, for years now, has done a superb job at explaining that work to residents of northern Arizona. The partnership with Discovery extends that reach across the whole planet,” she added.

Friel is currently serving as the Executive Officer, Division of Astronomical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF). Among her previous experience, she served as Program Director, Unit Coordinator for NSF; Director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory; she was Founder and Director of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program; and she was a NATO/NSF Fellow, a visiting astronomer at the Paris Observatory, and a National Research Council Research Associate. Dr. Friel received her Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of California-Santa Cruz, a Part III Math Tripos from Churchill College, Cambridge University in England, and her B.S. in Physics with Highest Honors from William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Dr. Friel’s research interest is in galactic evolution, in particular in using star clusters as chemical and dynamical probes in The Milky Way and local group galaxies, in issues of stellar populations and stellar evolution and nucleosynthesis.

“This represents a great leap forward for Lowell Observatory,” said Mr. Putnam, sole Trustee of Lowell Observatory.

Friel will succeed Bob Millis who has served as the Lowell Observatory Director since 1989. Millis will step down as Director on June 15th of this year.

About Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory is a private, non-profit research institution founded in 1894 by Percival Lowell. The Observatory has been the site of many important findings including the discovery of the large recessional velocities (redshift) of galaxies by Vesto Slipher in 1912-1914 (a result that led ultimately to the realization the universe is expanding), and the discovery of Pluto by Clyde Tombaugh in 1930. Today, Lowell’s 20 astronomers use ground-based telescopes around the world, telescopes in space, and NASA planetary spacecraft to conduct research in diverse areas of astronomy and planetary science. The Observatory welcomes more than 75,000 visitors each year to its Mars Hill campus in Flagstaff, Arizona for a variety of tours, telescope viewing, and special programs. Lowell Observatory currently has four research telescopes at its Anderson Mesa dark sky site east of Flagstaff, and is building a 4-meter class research telescope, the Discovery Channel Telescope, in partnership with Discovery Communications.

SpaceRef staff editor.