Press Release

Hewitt takes the controls at MIT Center for Space Research

By SpaceRef Editor
January 25, 2002
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Jacqueline N. Hewitt, professor of physics, is
taking over the Center for Space Research at a time when our picture
of the early history of the universe is changing dramatically.

“Results from different sources have been joined to create a more
unified picture of the phases of the early universe,” she said. “Many
new doors may be opened by the latest research.”

Hewitt, a radio astronomer, on Jan. 16 succeeded former director
Claude R. Canizares, Bruno Rossi Professor of Experimental Physics at
MIT and associate director of the Chandra X-Ray Observatory Center.
Canizares was named associate provost of MIT in October 2001 after
serving as head of the Center for Space Research (CSR) since 1990.

“Jackie Hewitt is a terrific scientist and will be a great director
of the Center for Space Research,” said Dean of Science Robert J.
Silbey. “I am looking forward to working with her to continue the
tradition of excellence in CSR.”

SCIENCE MEETS TECHNOLOGY

Founded in 1965, CSR is an interdepartmental center that supports
research in space science and engineering, astronomy and
astrophysics. The center helps design, build and run instruments
aboard NASA space vehicles. Its faculty are tied to the physics;
aeronautics and astronautics; and earth, atmospheric and planetary
sciences departments.

The center’s projects span X-ray, optical, radio and planetary
astronomy, theoretical astrophysics, space plasma physics,
gravitation and cosmology, theoretical geo/cosmo plasma physics, as
well as the MIT Man-Vehicle Laboratory and the Space Nanotechnology
Laboratory.

Originally dependent on X-ray astronomy, the tools for space research
have broadened in recent years to include ultraviolet and radio
waves, data from increasingly powerful ground- and space-based
optical and radio telescopes, and new possibilities such as gravity
waves.

“There’s a marriage of science and technology here that’s very
exciting,” Hewitt said. “The biggest asset of CSR is the creativity
of its faculty, research scientists and students. My goal is to make
it as easy as possible for them to do what they want to do.”

SPACE FOR SPACE RESEARCH

A recent renovation in Building 37 has allowed astrophysicists to
move from the physics department into CSR. Shared open space between
offices is allowing for increased collaboration and idea-sharing
among faculty that Hewitt expects will bolster the existing
“entrepreneurial” spirit that creates wide-ranging projects within
the center.

Hewitt also hopes to see continuing projects in which outside
researchers from seek CSR expertise. For decades, CSR researchers
have helped design experiments for biologists and others that will
take place in the harsh environment of outer space.

Hewitt, who has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Bryn Mawr
College and a Ph.D. in physics from MIT, joined the faculty at MIT in
1989. Her research interests are in the application of techniques of
radio astronomy, interferometry, image processing and signal
processing to problems in astrophysics. She is working on cosmology,
gravitational lenses and surveys of transient astronomical radio
emission.

SpaceRef staff editor.