Dr. Belinda Wilkes Chosen to Lead the Chandra X-ray Center

Belinda Wilkes

Professor Charles Alcock, Director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, announces that after an extensive search, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), in consultation with NASA, has selected Dr. Belinda Wilkes as the next director of the Chandra X-ray Center (CXC). She will assume the directorship on April 20, 2014.

Based in Cambridge, MA, the CXC is responsible for the operations of the Chandra X-ray Observatory and for maximizing the scientific return from Chandra, one of NASA Astrophysics' four Great Observatories. "Chandra is our principal responsibility to the world of astrophysics,” said Professor Alcock, “and we are very pleased that such a highly qualified candidate has accepted this position.” Dr. Wilkes will succeed Dr. Harvey Tananbaum who has led the CXC since its inception in 1991.

Dr. Wilkes has served as the CXC Assistant Director for the past 12 years. In this capacity, she has demonstrated the expertise necessary to lead the CXC and to continue and extend the success of the Chandra mission. She has worked effectively with members of the CXC staff and has developed strong working relationships with NASA Headquarters and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), which manages Chandra.

"Dr. Wilkes will be an outstanding Director and will continue the tradition of advancing astronomy and astrophysics via Chandra’s unique and vital contributions to these fields," said MSFC's Dr. Martin Weisskopf, Chandra's Project Scientist.

Dr. Wilkes is well known to Chandra’s international user community through her lead role in organizing and managing the annual Peer Review for Chandra observing, archival and theoretical research proposals. Her extensive knowledge of the needs of Chandra users will enable Chandra to continue its excellent service to the astronomical community. "Belinda Wilkes is a first-rate scientist who really connects with the ever-expanding community of Chandra Users," said Professor Jon Miller of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, who serves as Chair of the Chandra User Committee. "It is terrific that she will be guiding Chandra into the future."

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-Megan Watzke, CXC

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