NASA Office of Logic Design

NASA Office of Logic Design

A scientific study of the problems of digital engineering for space flight systems,
with a view to their practical solution.

2005 MAPLD International Conference

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center
Washington, D.C.

September 7-9, 2005

Steven Beckwith: Director, Space Telescope Science Institute and Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University

Steven Beckwith
Director, Space Telescope Science Institute
Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Johns Hopkins University




Steven Beckwith is the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) on the campus of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and a Professor of Physics and Astronomy at JHU. The Institute, with a staff of approximately 500 people, including 100 scientists and 150 engineers, runs the science operations for the Hubble Space Telescope.

His background is in engineering and physics. He attended the engineering school at Cornell University as an undergraduate from 1970 to 1973, receiving a B.S. with distinction in Engineering Physics in 1973. From 1973 to 1978, he did graduate work in physics at the California Institute of Technology, receiving a Ph.D. in Physics in 1978. Following his Ph.D., he joined the faculty of Cornell University in the astronomy department, where he taught for 13 years, as a professor. During that time, he held a number of visiting positions at Arcetri Observatory (Florence, Italy), the University of California at Berkeley, the California Institute of Technology, and the Max-Planck-Institute fuer Astronomie (Heidelberg, Germany). He also founded a small company with his wife, Ithaca Infrared Systems, and served as its President from 1983 until 1989. Their company tested the short wavelength detectors for the Cosmic Background Explorer.

In 1991, he moved to Heidelberg, Germany as one of two directors of the Max-Planck- Institut fuer Astronomie (MPIA), and later became Managing Director of the MPIA in 1994, where he had responsibility for a staff of approximately 200 and ran the German national observatory, the Calar Alto Observatory in southern Spain. He led an effort to involve Germany in the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), creating a partnership (the LBT Beteiligungs gesellschaft) of which he was managing director until 1998. Germany is still a full partner in the LBT. He was Managing Director of MPIA until 1998, when he moved back to the United States to become the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute.

He successfully advocated for the enhanced instrument concept for WFC3, the next generation camera for Hubble, and the repair of the NICMOS instrument on the fourth servicing mission. Since 1998, he has re-organized the management structure of the STScI to support two large observatories: Hubble and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Following NASA's announcement of its intent to cancel the final servicing mission in 2004, he served as a public advocate for Hubble through appearances in the media and before advisory committees.

His principal research interests are the formation and early evolution of planets including those outside the Solar System, and the birth of galaxies in the early universe. He has published over 100 research articles, and lectures extensively to the general public and professional audiences. He has won several awards in the United States and Europe for his research; he was elected as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2004.

He also contributes his time to advisory committees on research policy. He was the chairman of the Science and Technical Committee of the European Southern Observatory for three years overseeing the extensive buildup of instrumentation for the Very Large Telescope project, he chaired the European panel to set priorities for space research for all wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the radio spectrum (Horizon 2000+), and he was recently the chairman of the panel to set priorities in ultraviolet through radio space research for the first decade of the new millennium as part of the Astronomy and Astrophysics Survey Committee of the National Research Council of the United States.

Steven Beckwith resides in Ruxton, Maryland with his wife, Susan McCormick, and his children, Martha and Thomas, with whom he enjoys skiing, fishing, bicycle touring, and traveling.

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