Gerard Kriss

Associate Director of Instrumentation
Gerard Kriss

As the associate director of instrumentation, Dr. Gerard Kriss provides leadership, vision, and executive-level oversight of instrumentation work at the institute as well as our optics hardware activities. From 2016 to 2019, he served as the associate director of operations, which included oversight of the instruments division, the operations and engineering division, and the information technology and services division. He joined the institute in 1998 and continues active research as an astronomer. Throughout his tenure, he has led several teams, including the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) Team, the Instruments Division, the James Webb Space Telescope Instruments Team, and the Spectrographs Group.

From 1985 to 2012, he served in several roles at Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, including as a research scientist and research professor. He led the development of the Far Ultraviolet Spectroscopic Explorer (FUSE) data processing system and served as the project scientist for the Hopkins Ultraviolet Telescope (HUT) on the Astro-2 space shuttle mission. Before this he was an assistant professor and post-doctoral scholar at the University of Michigan’s Department of Astronomy. He began his career as a research assistant at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Space Research (now the Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research).

Dr. Kriss’s research centers on using ultraviolet light to study supermassive black holes that are at the heart of quasars and other active galaxies. He is particularly well noted for his studies linking the ultraviolet and X-ray properties of winds outflowing from the nuclei of active galaxies, and for high-resolution ultraviolet spectra that unraveled the structure of ionized helium in the intergalactic medium. His articles have appeared in the Astrophysical Journal and Astronomy & Astrophysics, and he has presented at numerous professional conferences.

Dr. Kriss first developed an interest in amateur astronomy in junior high school, when he built a telescope to explore the skies from his backyard. While an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he performed research with a group flying high-energy X-ray detectors on high-altitude balloons. Since then, he has worked with a range of astronomy satellites, including HUT and FUSE, and helped test one of the first instruments for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Faint Object Spectrograph (FOS).


PhD in Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
SB in Physics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Research Interests:

Active galactic nuclei (AGN), active galaxies, astronomical instrumentation, cD galaxies, elliptical galaxies, galaxy clusters, intergalactic medium, quasars