The Dutch Research Council (NWO) has appointed Jessica Dempsey as the new director of Astron, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. She’s the successor of Carole Jackson, who took the helm in 2017 (link in Dutch) and relinquished it last March. Since her departure, Marco de Vos served as interim general and scientific director.
Dempsey has a background in radio interferometry and is currently deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii. There, she established international partnerships and expanded funding opportunities for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. Her scientific focus is on wide-field surveys of the diverse molecules in the galaxy at radio wavelengths. She spent five summers at the geographic South Pole building site testing instruments and a robotic telescope before wintering at the South Pole station in 2005 for the Arcminute Cosmology Bolometer Array Receiver cosmic microwave background experiment. She was also a member of the Event Horizon Telescope team, who captured an image of a black hole for the first time.
The appointment is the result of an international recruitment campaign. “Dempsey was selected for a well-established and broad track record in the three main areas of Astron: astronomy, instrumentation in radio astronomy and observatory operations,” according to Marcel Levi, chairman of the NWO board. “She’s a world-renowned scientist and has successfully led an astronomical institution in a complex international environment with many partners and with a very active attitude towards more inclusion, equality and diversity.”