The Association of Universities for Astronomy (AURA) is pleased to welcome two new member institutions: the University of Utah and the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Both institutions’ applications to join AURA were approved by AURA’s Member Representatives at its April annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona.
University of Utah astronomy
Established in 1850, the University of Utah is the flagship university of the state. A community of students, staff and scholars, the University of Utah—affectionately called “the U”—is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through innovative research; the education of future citizens, professionals and leaders; and scholarly and creative pursuits that preserve and broaden our understanding of the human condition. The U prepares students for leadership roles in Utah, the country and the world. Located in one of the darkest states in the nation, housing the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies and launching the first-ever minor in dark sky studies in the U.S., the U is a leader in exploring the impacts of artificial light at night and the loss of our night skies through a broad range of disciplines.
The University of Utah’s Department of Physics & Astronomy is committed to pursuing key science questions within an inclusive academic community; to training and diversifying the next generation of researchers, educators and technology workforce leaders; and to inspiring an appreciation for knowledge in students and the wider community.
“The University of Utah is really excited to be joining AURA. Our astronomy group has grown over the past decade. Our faculty play important roles in several surveys and have taken on leadership roles in the astronomy community. Participating in AURA is a clear next step as many of the key facilities our research programs rely on are managed by AURA,” said Anil Chandra Seth, professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy.
“We warmly welcome UCLA and the University of Utah to AURA,” said Matt Mountain, president of AURA. “AURA is looking forward to both of these outstanding institutions playing a full and active role in AURA decision making and increasing AURA engagement and awareness with their students and faculty.”
Ranked as the No. 1 public university in the United States, UCLA is a major research institution dedicated to the creation, dissemination, preservation and application of knowledge for the betterment of our global society. UCLA is equally dedicated to diversity, recognizing that true quality in education and research is the result of openness and inclusion.
UCLA’s physics and astronomy department is one of the world’s premier research centers in the discipline. Its award-winning faculty includes Andrea Ghez, recipient of the 2020 Physics Nobel Prize for the discovery of the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Its research spans all areas of astronomy and astrophysics, from cosmology to galaxy formation and evolution, to star formation, exoplanets and the solar system. The UCLA Infrared Lab builds some of the most advanced scientific instruments in the world, including many mounted on the W.M. Keck 10m Telescopes. UCLA is a primary user of AURA-operated facilities such as the NOIRLab telescopes, and the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes.
Tommaso Treu, professor and vice chair for astronomy and astrophysics, commented, “UCLA is delighted to join AURA. The scientific interests of AURA and UCLA are very well aligned, and the two institutions will mutually benefit from closer interaction and collaboration, e.g on the US Extremely Large Telescope Program. We look forward to working with AURA.”
AURA was founded in 1957 and its role is to establish, nurture, and promote public observatories and facilities that advance innovative astronomical research. In addition, AURA is deeply committed to public and educational outreach, and to diversity throughout the astronomical and scientific workforce.
AURA operates world-class astronomical Centers for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. For NSF, AURA operates NOIRLab and the National Solar Observatory (NSO). NOIRLab is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical and infrared astronomy. NSO is the national research center for ground-based solar physics in the U.S.
For NASA, AURA manages the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). STScI is a multi-mission operations center for NASA’s flagship observatories and a world-class astronomical research center.
AURA looks forward to our future partnership with both UCLA and University of Utah, as we work together to enable astronomical discovery and promote broad engagement in exploring the universe.
LISA POTTER – RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS SPECIALIST, UNIVERSITY OF UTAH COMMUNICATIONS