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New Director for Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

Published by Rob Goldsmith on Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:22 am
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STFC is pleased to announce that  Dr Marc Balcells, a tenured researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica 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.

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

The Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes

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.

Dr Marc Balcells, Director ING

Dr Marc Balcells, Director ING

“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.”

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