Kron named to succeed Peoples as SDSS Director

Richard G. Kron, professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago and a scientist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, was named director of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Dr. Kron succeeds John Peoples of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory as the third director of Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Dr. Peoples retires June 30th. "We want to acknowledge and thank John Peoples for his tireless dedication and devotion to the SDSS," said Rene Walterbos of New Mexico State University (Las Cruces) and chair of the Board of Governors of the Astronomical Research Consortium that operates the SDSS. "Under his five years of steady leadership as Director, the tremendous scientific potential of the SDSS has been become a reality."

Kron leads the day-to-day operations of the SDSS, a collaboration of 13 institutions around the world and more than 200 astronomers conducting the largest census ever of the sky. He is the former director of the Yerkes Observatory at the University of Chicago.

"Rich Kron has been involved with the Sloan Digital Sky Survey from its earliest, conceptual days," said Jeff Pier, chair of the SDSS Advisory Council and director of the U.S. Naval Observatory's Flagstaff (Ariz.) Station. "He was one of a handful of scientists who came up with the idea that the both the time and technology had gotten to the point where undertaking a digital imaging and spectroscopic survey of the northern sky was both possible and promising."

Kron said he was excited about the new position, especially because of the breadth of the application of the new SDSS data. "You can mine the database - the sky images and spectra - and look at it in so many different ways. It leads to a multitude of avenues to connect different astronomy topics. The high quality and enormous quantity of the data from the SDSS results comes from the careful design of the instruments.

"My chief goal is assuring that access to the data by the scientific community and the public is stable and smooth and easy to use." In addition, Kron now has to balance his teaching at the University of Chicago and leading the SDSS. He was Scientific Spokesman for two years - keeping tabs on the scientific health of the project as well as overseeing collaboration affairs - while still able to keep up his teaching load. "It was a challenge to keep up with the flow of scientific results. Now, as director, my biggest job is to keep on target with new data collection while assuring the same high quality."

The 51-year-old astronomer literally grew up in the field. Born in Australia while his parents worked at Mount Stromlo Observatory, he spent his first 14 years at Lick Observatory in California where his parents were University of California astronomers. The family moved to Arizona where his father was head of the U.S. Naval Observatory station in Flagstaff.

Kron received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley where he started his career work on surveys of distant galaxies, and his undergraduate degree in physics from the University of Arizona.

He is the recipient of the Pierce Prize from the American Astronomical Society and the Trumpler Prize from the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, both for his work on surveys. University of Chicago undergraduate students also honored Kron with the Quantrell Award for teaching excellence.

Rich Kron (left) and John Peoples were in Washington DC on June 17 for the 9th annual Coalition for National Science Funding Exhibition and reception on Capitol Hill. SDSS was the representative of the American Astronomical Society.