Press Release

New Director for Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

By SpaceRef Editor
August 2, 2009
Filed under , , ,

STFC is pleased to announce that Dr Marc Balcells, a tenured researcher at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Tenerife, has been appointed Director of the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) in the Canary Islands. He will begin his new role with effect from 15 July 2009.

Born in Barcelona, Dr Balcells obtained a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA. His scientific interests are broad and include galaxy formation and assembly, deep surveys, galaxy structure, dynamics and evolution, numerical modelling of interactions and mergers of galaxies, and the development of near-infrared instrumentation.

Dr Balcells is co-founder of the GOYA collaboration for high-redshift galaxy studies with GTC, and is a member of a number of international research groups including the EMIR scientific group and the Coma-ACS Legacy Survey collaboration, where he leads the Coma Structural Parameters working group. He is also involved in instrumentation and was PI of the EMIR near-infrared multi-object spectrograph for GTC and initiated its design. He was a member of the Science Advisory Committee for ING and has been promoting the development of wide-field spectroscopy and imaging at the WHT.

Speaking about ING’s William Herschel Telescope (WHT), Dr Balcells said, “The WHT stands out among intermediate-size telescopes for its broad instrumentation suite and its programme of visiting instruments, in a site well known for its superb observing conditions.

“The immediate goals for the coming years will be to fully exploit the upcoming HARPS spectrograph for planet detection; to develop the next generation of wide-field instrumentation for the WHT, and to prepare new agreements to run the organisation through the coming decade. Together, these developments should reinforce the role of the WHT as one of the most productive 4-meter telescopes in the world.”

Professor Keith Mason, Chief Executive of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), one of the joint owners of the ING, said, “I am delighted that Dr Balcells is joining us as Director of ING. He has a distinguished career in astronomy and we’re very pleased to have someone of his ability leading the future of the facility.”


Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING) operates the 4.2 metre William Herschel Telescope, and the 2.5 metre Isaac Newton Telescope. The telescopes are owned jointly by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of the United Kingdom, the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) of the Netherlands and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) of Spain. The telescopes are located in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos on La Palma, Canary Islands which is operated by the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC).

Julia Short
Press Officer
Tel: +44 (0)1793 442 012

Javier Mendez Alvarez
Public Relations Officer
Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes (ING)
Tel: +34 9224 25464 / 05500
Mobile: +34 616 464 111

Science and Technology Facilities Council

The Science and Technology Facilities Council ensures the UK retains its leading place on the world stage by delivering world-class science; accessing and hosting international facilities; developing innovative technologies; and increasing the socio-economic impact of its research through effective knowledge exchange.

The Council has a broad science portfolio including Astronomy, Particle Physics, Particle Astrophysics, Nuclear Physics, Space Science, Synchrotron Radiation, Neutron Sources and High Power Lasers. In addition the Council manages and operates three internationally renowned laboratories:

* The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxfordshire
* The Daresbury Laboratory, Cheshire
* The UK Astronomy Technology Centre, Edinburgh

The Council gives researchers access to world-class facilities and funds the UK membership of international bodies such as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institute Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the European organisation for Astronomical Research in the Southern Hemisphere (ESO) and the European Space Agency (ESA). It also funds UK telescopes overseas on La Palma, Hawaii, Australia and in Chile, and the MERLIN/VLBI National Facility, which includes the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

The Council distributes public money from the Government to support scientific research.

SpaceRef staff editor.