Nantucket, MA- It is my distinct pleasure to announce that Dr. Regina Jorgenson will be joining the staff of the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) as our next Director of Astronomy. Dr. Jorgenson will replace Dr. Michael West who has taken a position as the Deputy Director of the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona. Dr. Jorgenson was selected from an extraordinary group of candidates and will be joining us on January 4, 2016 after finishing her obligations at Willamette University where she is a Visiting Professor. Dr. Jorgenson comments, “I am enthusiastic about working closely with undergraduate research collaborators, and am excited about utilizing the extraordinary Maria Mitchell Observatory facilities for our research. As the new Director of Astronomy, I will consciously work to raise the national and international profile of the MMA via my collaborations in research, education, and outreach. I will also bring my commitment to public outreach and advocacy for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Science, Technology, Education and Math (STEM) fields.”
Dr. Jorgenson is no stranger to Nantucket or the MMA. In the late 1990’s, she was a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) intern under the tutelage of the MMA’s then Director of Astronomy, Dr. Strelnitski. She later joined the MMA staff as the Assistant Director of the Maria Mitchell Observatory from 1999-2002.
Dr. Jorgenson, much like Maria Mitchell, is an advocate for women in Physics and Astronomy. After her undergraduate graduation, she received the prestigious Thomas J. Watson Foundation Fellowship which permitted her to spend a year traveling around the world exploring the question, “why are there so few women in physics and astronomy and the effects of culture on science”. Needless to say, the MMA staff is very excited to have her return.
Dr. Jorgenson earned her Ph.D. in physics at UC San Diego, specializing in studies of galaxy formation and evolution. She continued this work as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge and then won a prestigious National Science Foundation Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship that she took to the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. There she used the largest optical telescopes in the world to obtain the first spectral images of normal galaxies in the early Universe.
Although we have not set a date yet, the MMA is planning to host a reception on her behalf in January 2016. We hope to see you there to welcome Dr. Regina Jorgenson to Nantucket and the MMA!