Debra Fischer to lead NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences

Fri, 10/01/2021

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named Debra Fischer, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy in Yale’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, director of its Division of Astronomical Sciences.

As director, Fischer will lead NSF’s mission to set national astrophysics science priorities, guide and support a broad range of ongoing research, and develop new instrumentation.

Fischer said that in addition to helping prioritize research, she wants to advance diversity and inclusivity in science. And she will promote efforts to combat climate change.

If we don’t start now, by changing the ways we do science, it will be too late,” said Fischer, a co-founder of the international group Astronomers for Planet Earth. “The change has to start with us. We can prepare energy budgets for our facilities and the projects we do.”

The directorship begins Oct. 12 and will continue for a minimum of three years. Fischer will relocate to Washington, D.C. for the new job, but will continue to oversee her Yale research. She is the first Yale faculty member to be selected for the role.

This is an extremely important position, particularly at this point when two new NSF-funded observatories — the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope and the Vera Rubin Observatory — are soon to come online, potentially changing the landscape of astronomy,” said Sarbani Basu, the William K. Lanman Jr. Professor and chair of the Department of Astronomy at Yale. “I am proud that a faculty member from this department will occupy this position and lead U.S. ground-based astronomy at this time.”

Read the full article by Jim Shelton on Yale News:

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