New Project Director for NOIRLab US-ELT Program Appointed
27 January 2023
NOIRLab is pleased to announce the appointment of Lucas Macri as the new Project Director of NOIRLab’s part of the US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP). The US-ELTP is a joint initiative of NSF’s NOIRLab and the organizations building the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope. It aims to complete the construction of both telescopes, guarantee US astronomers observing time on both, and produce a suite of inclusive software services enabling all astronomers to fully leverage the scientific promise of the two observatories. Macri will start in his new role on or about 1 May 2023 and will be working from Tucson.
"I'm thrilled to return to NOIRLab and work with the astronomical community to broaden participation in the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope — revolutionary and challenging projects that will benefit astronomy for decades to come," said Macri.
"We are delighted to have Lucas taking on this critical role as he contributes to the current and future developments of the program," said Patrick McCarthy, NOIRLab Director, "He will be an invaluable asset to US-ELTP, and we look forward to his work with the scientific team and our partners."
Macri brings a wealth of scientific and leadership experience to his new role and has been involved in major astronomical infrastructure for many years. Between 2013 and 2018 he was an active member of an NSF Science Working Group on the Thirty Meter Telescope. Since 2020, he has been the Chair of the Executive Board of the LSST Corporation, having served as Vice-Chair in 2019 and as Texas A&M’s Member Representative since 2014. Through these appointments, Macri worked to broaden community participation and access to national facilities.
Macri earned a BS in Physics from MIT in 1995 and a PhD in Astronomy from Harvard in 2001. He held Hubble and Goldberg postdoctoral fellowships at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) before joining the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Texas A&M University in 2008.
The primary focus of his research has been in the extragalactic distance scale, using Cepheids and Miras to calibrate the luminosity of type Ia supernovae and measure the Hubble constant with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope. He has also worked on the optical follow-up of gravitational-wave sources, all-sky redshift surveys, searches for exoplanets, and time-domain surveys using infrastructure in Antarctica. In addition to his tenured faculty role, Macri has served for the last six years as an Associate Dean in the College of Science (now Arts & Sciences) at Texas A&M, focusing on promoting academic success and reducing achievement gaps among students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.
NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the International Gemini Observatory (a facility of NSF, NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and KASI–Republic of Korea), Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory (operated in cooperation with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawai‘i, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O'odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.
The US Extremely Large Telescope Program (US-ELTP) is a joint endeavor of NSF’s NOIRLab and the organizations building the Giant Magellan Telescope and the Thirty Meter Telescope. These organizations envisage the US-ELTP as a system of two individual telescopes, one in each hemisphere, to provide astronomers in the United States with nationally funded, full-sky observing access.
Public Information Officer