ARECIBO, P.R. — Sixto Gonzalez has been named director of
Arecibo Observatory, the home of the world’s largest and
most-sensitive single-dish radio telescope. His appointment is
effective Sept. 29. He is the first native-born Puerto Rican to head
the observatory.

Since 2001 Gonzalez has been assistant director for space and
atmospheric sciences at the telescope facility. He succeeds Daniel
Altschuler, who will become the first director of the observatory’s
Office for the Public Understanding of Science (OPUS), which will
provide a multicultural focus for education and public outreach
activities in Puerto Rico.

The announcement was made by Robert Brown, director of the National
Astronomy and Ionosphere Center (NAIC), which manages the
observatory. NAIC is a national research center operated by Cornell
University, Ithaca, N.Y., under a cooperative agreement with the
National Science Foundation (NSF).

Commenting on the appointments, Brown said, "All of us share in the
desire to enhance the scientific purpose of the Arecibo Observatory
and bring the excitement of its research program to the people who
provide its support. With the appointments of Sixto and Daniel to
their new positions, we have the leadership in place to achieve these

The observatory’s director is responsible for overall management of
the facility, including the execution of basic policy that maintains
the observatory at the forefront of research in astronomy, planetary
studies and atmospheric sciences.

From 1993 to 1999, Gonzalez, who was born in Bayamon, P.R.,
was a research associate at the observatory, and currently he is a
senior research associate. Earlier this year, he and José
Alonso, educational officer at the observatory, helped create a new
program of first-hand research experience in the geosciences for high
school students and their teachers, and for undergraduates in
northwest Puerto Rico. Gonzalez himself took part in a
summer-student program at the observatory in 1988. Gonzalez
currently is serving a two-year term as chairman of the NSF’s
Coupling, Energetics and Dynamics of Atmospheric Regions (CEDAR)
steering committee. CEDAR, which is part of the agency’s involvement
in the U.S. Global Change Research Program, aims to explain how
energy is transferred between atmospheric regions by combining a
comprehensive observational program with theoretical and empirical
modeling efforts. He also is serving as vice chairman of Scientific
Commission C of the Committee on Space Research, an international
group promoting scientific research in space.

Gonzalez attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
from 1983 to 1984 and earned his B.Sc. from the University of Puerto
Rico-Humacao in 1988. He earned his Ph.D. from Utah State University
in 1994.

Altschuler, who became director and senior research associate at
Arecibo Observatory in 1991, was project leader for the construction
of the Angel Ramos Foundation Visitor and Education Center at the
observatory, which attracts about 125,000 visitors a year and is the
site of summer science-teacher workshops.

In collaboration with the NSF Office of Informal Education, OPUS will
develop and implement new initiatives that will make use of the
observatory to promote public understanding of science to 4 million
Hispanic U.S. citizens on the island.

Since 1979 Altschuler has been a professor of physics at the
University of Puerto Rico at Rio Piedras. From 1976 to 1978, he was
assistant professor in the Department of Natural Sciences at
InterAmerican University of Puerto Rico at Aguadilla. He was a
visiting scientist at the Max-Planck Institute for Radioastronomy,
Germany, from 1985 to 1987.

Born to German immigrants in Montevideo, Uruguay, Altschuler earned
his bachelor’s degree at Duke University and his Ph.D. at Brandeis

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