Press Release

Kron named to succeed Peoples as Director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey

By SpaceRef Editor
June 23, 2003
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Richard G. Kron, professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of
Chicago and a scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, was
named director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Dr. Kron succeeds John Peoples of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
as the third director of Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Dr. Peoples retires
June 30th. “We want to acknowledge and thank John Peoples for his tireless
dedication and devotion to the SDSS,” said Rene Walterbos of New Mexico State
University (Las Cruces) and chair of the Board of Governors of the Astronomical
Research Consortium that operates the SDSS. “Under his five years of steady
leadership as Director, the tremendous scientific potential of the SDSS has been
become a reality.”

Kron leads the day-to-day operations of the SDSS, a collaboration of 13
institutions around the world and more than 200 astronomers conducting the largest
census ever of the sky. He is the former director of the Yerkes Observatory at
the University of Chicago.

“Rich Kron has been involved with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey from its
earliest, conceptual days,” said Jeff Pier, chair of the SDSS Advisory Council and
director of the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Flagstaff (Ariz.) Station. “He was
one of a handful of scientists who came up with the idea that the both the time
and technology had gotten to the point where undertaking a digital imaging and
spectroscopic survey of the northern sky was both possible and promising.”

Kron said he was excited about the new position, especially because of the
breadth of the application of the new SDSS data. “You can mine the database –
the sky images and spectra – and look at it in so many different ways. It leads
to a multitude of avenues to connect different astronomy topics. The high
quality and enormous quantity of the data from the SDSS results comes from the
careful design of the instruments.

“My chief goal is assuring that access to the data by the scientific
community and the public is stable and smooth and easy to use.” In addition, Kron now
has to balance his teaching at the University of Chicago and leading the SDSS.
He was Scientific Spokesman for two years – keeping tabs on the scientific
health of the project as well as overseeing collaboration affairs – while still
able to keep up his teaching load. “It was a challenge to keep up with the
flow of scientific results. Now, as director, my biggest job is to keep on target
with new data collection while assuring the same high quality.”

The 51-year-old astronomer literally grew up in the field. Born in Australia
while his parents worked at Mount Stromlo Observatory, he spent his first 14
years at Lick Observatory in California where his parents were University of
California astronomers. The family moved to Arizona where his father was head of
the U.S. Naval Observatory station in Flagstaff.

Kron received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at
Berkeley where he started his career work on surveys of distant galaxies, and his
undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Arizona.

He is the recipient of the Pierce Prize from the American Astronomical
Society and the Trumpler Prize from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, both
for his work on surveys. University of Chicago undergraduate students also
honored Kron with the Quantrell Award for teaching excellence.

ABOUT THE SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY (SDSS)

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (sdss.org) will map in detail one-quarter of the
entire sky, determining the positions and absolute brightness of 100 million
celestial objects. It will also measure the distances to more than a million
galaxies and quasars. The Astrophysical Research Consortium (ARC) operates
Apache Point Observatory, site of the SDSS telescopes.

SDSS is a joint project of The University of Chicago, Fermilab, the Institute
for Advanced Study, the Japan Participation Group, The Johns Hopkins
University, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy
(MPIA), the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), New Mexico State
University, University of Pittsburgh, Princeton University, the United States
Naval Observatory, and the University of Washington.

Funding for the project has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation,
the Participating Institutions, the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the
Japanese Monbukagakusho and the Max Planck Society.

SpaceRef staff editor.