Home > News > Appointment of Associate Vice ...

Appointment of Associate Vice President for Research/Physical and Engineering Sciences

July 27, 2011

Memo to the Rensselaer Community from Francine Berman, Vice President for Research

I am delighted to announce that Dr. Jon Morse, Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, will join the Institute as Associate Vice President for Research/Physical and Engineering Sciences starting October 3, 2011.

Dr. Morse has been Director of the Astrophysics Division since 2007, leading one of the world’s largest space astrophysics programs. The $1.1 billion Astrophysics Division portfolio includes over a dozen flight projects and grant programs for a large community of researchers in the U.S. Dr. Morse has had overall management responsibility for major research missions with international scientific significance, such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. He has also overseen the successful launches of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, Kepler observatory, Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), and Servicing Mission 4 to Hubble, to be followed by the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) Explorer mission, and future observatories.  Dr. Morse made key investments in basic research and technology development that will drive future frontier missions.

Dr. Morse joined NASA in 2005 as a Senior Astrophysicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center in the Laboratory for Observational Cosmology. From 2006 to 2007, he served as a senior policy analyst for the physical sciences and engineering in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President. In this role, he worked with the OSTP director and senior staff advising the President and key leaders on domestic and international science and technology activities, helping to develop and promote strategic initiatives for the future of American space, competitiveness, and energy policy. In this capacity, he assisted in budget development for federal R&D agencies to foster both fundamental and use-inspired research and development programs that lead to marketable technologies with economic benefit.

Prior to joining NASA, Dr. Morse served as a tenured faculty member of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Arizona State University and as a research associate at the University of Colorado. His scientific research focused on galactic and extragalactic astronomy, including the investigation of dark energy, galaxy assembly, the origins of elements, the formation of stellar and planetary systems, and extrasolar planets.

Dr. Morse joined the University of Colorado in 1995. He was project scientist for the NASA Cosmic Origins Spectrograph for the Hubble Space Telescope from 1997 to 2003. This sophisticated device was successfully installed on Hubble in 2009 and is now being used by astronomers around the world to study the origins and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the intergalactic medium. Dr. Morse became Associate Director of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy at the Colorado in 2000.

Dr. Morse earned his bachelor’s degree in astronomy from Harvard University and his master’s degree and doctorate in astrophysics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He began his academic career as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

We are tremendously excited that Dr. Morse will be joining the Office of Research at Rensselaer.  Please join me in welcoming Dr. Morse to the Rensselaer community.

— Francine Berman, Vice President for Research

Contact: Gabrielle DeMarco
Phone: (518) 276-6542