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January 24, 2017 11:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2017-05

Dr. Margaret Meixner and Dr. Marc Postman Promoted to STScI Distinguished Astronomers

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Dr. Margaret Meixner and Dr. Marc Postman Promoted to STScI Distinguished AstronomersView this image

The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, has appointed Dr. Margaret Meixner and Dr. Marc Postman to the position of STScI Distinguished Astronomer.

Distinguished Astronomer is the highest level of appointment on the tenure track at STScI and represents a rank commensurate with the highest level of professorial appointments at major universities. Only a small percentage of STScI scientists will achieve this rank during their career. Nobel Laureate Adam Riess also holds this prestigious STScI research staff position.

Dr. Meixner's promotion recognizes her long-term contributions to research and service at STScI. She has led international teams to study the life cycle of dust in the Magellanic Clouds using the Hubble, Spitzer and Herschel space telescopes.

Meixner's Magellanic Clouds research has formed the basis for her guaranteed time observational program that uses the Mid-Infrared Instrument on the James Webb Space Telescope, of which she is a U.S. science team member. Meixner fills a critical management role in preparing for the launch and operations of the Webb Telescope. In addition, Meixner has led the development of new astronomical infrared instruments that help reach deeper into the universe, such as the WIYN High-Resolution Infrared Camera (WHIRC). She is co-leading a new mission concept study for the Origins Space Telescope, a potential future NASA flagship mission, sensitive to mid-infrared to sub-millimeter radiation. The Origins Space Telescope will investigate the increase of elemental abundances and dust in the universe and study the formation of habitable planetary systems and the signs of life on planets around other stars.

Meixner earned her B.S. degrees in electrical engineering and mathematics in 1987 from the University of Maryland, College Park. She received her doctorate in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993. She joined STScI in 2002. Meixner is also a Principal Research Scientist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Meixner is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including being named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 2015 for her leadership in infrared instrumentation for astronomy, both from the ground and from space and for distinguished service in science team management for the Webb Telescope. She received the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) Science Achievement Award in 2009 for her leadership of the WHIRC project and Magellanic Clouds Studies, and she is the recipient of the 1994 Annie Jump Cannon Special Commendation of Honor.

Dr. Postman is being recognized for his long-term contributions to the study of the formation and evolution of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Postman has led important research to determine how the environments of galaxies determine their shapes and how the most massive galaxies evolve. His work relies heavily on using data from the Hubble Space Telescope as well as from other telescopes on the ground and in space. He leads an international research team that is providing new measurements on the distribution of dark matter in clusters and on the properties of very distant galaxies. Postman is preparing to apply the new James Webb Space Telescope to further our study of galaxy formation.

Since joining STScI in 1989, Postman has helped shape how data from many of NASA's ultraviolet and optical missions are disseminated to astronomers worldwide. He plays a key role in the design of a future large optical-ultraviolet telescope (LUVOIR) that would be launched into space, in part, to enable the detection of life's signatures in the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets around nearby sun-like stars. He is currently head of STScI's Community Missions Office and Principal Investigator of the HST Multi-cycle Treasury Program "Cluster Lensing and Supernova Survey with Hubble (CLASH)."

Postman earned his B.S. in physics in 1981 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his doctorate in astronomy in 1986 from Harvard University. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including NASA's Group Achievement Award in 2015 for his work with the Advanced Mirror Technology Development Team, and from AURA in 2013 for Outstanding Scientific Achievement for his leadership of the CLASH program, and an AURA Team Award in 2006 for Hubble Two-gyro Mode Science Study.

STScI is the science operations center for NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the science and operations center for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Hubble is a project of international cooperation between NASA and the European Space Agency. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages Hubble. STScI is operated for NASA by AURA.



Cheryl Gundy / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
410-338-4707 / 410-338-4514