Roeland van der Marel

Head of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope Mission Office
Roeland van der Marel

As the head of the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) mission office, Dr. Roeland P. van der Marel leads the institute’s WFIRST science operations, which include the mission’s planning and scheduling system, the data processing system for the Wide Field Instrument, and the data archive. He joined the institute in 1997 as a Giacconi Fellow, and has been an astronomer with tenure since 2008. He also holds a position as an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

At the institute, Dr. van der Marel previously led the telescopes group, which is responsible for issues related to the optics, focus, wavefront sensing and control, and guiding for the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), as well as the team that is responsible for the calibration and user support of the Hubble Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) and the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2). Before that, he was a scientist within the institute’s Science Policies division. After earning his doctorate, he spent three years as a Hubble Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

He has extensive astronomical observing experience on space- and ground-based telescopes, with a focus on using Hubble for studies of the dynamics of galaxies and the presence of black holes at their centers. He leads the Hubble Space Telescope Proper Motion (HSTPROMO) collaboration, which aims to improve understanding of stars, clusters, and galaxies in the nearby universe through measurement of their proper motions. He has published hundreds of papers and book contributions on these and other topics, with over 10,000 citations. His articles have appeared in the Astronomical Journal, the Astrophysical Journal, the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, and Nature.

Dr. van der Marel has also participated in more than 15 institute and NASA press releases on astronomical discoveries as a lead or co-investigator, which received wide international news coverage. He has given more than 180 talks at astronomical institutes and international conferences, including American Astronomical Society (AAS) Meetings and IAU (International Astronomical Union) Symposia. He has received various awards for his work, including the Top Prize of the Pirelli Awards for internet-based science communication and the Achievement Award from the American Immigration Law Foundation. He is a member of the AAS, the IAU, and the Nederlandse Astronomenclub. He has also served on a range of science advisory committees for the AAS and NASA.



PhD in Astronomy, Leiden University
MS in Astronomy, Leiden University
MS in Mathematics, Leiden University
BS in Astronomy, Leiden University
BS in Mathematics, Leiden University

Research Interests

Black holes, dark matter, galaxy evolution, galaxy structure, globular clusters, optical/infrared observational astronomy, proper motions, resolved stellar populations, theoretical dynamics

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