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Robert Kerr
Director, Arecibo Observatory


Dr. Robert Kerr is an upper atmospheric physicist, specializing in optical and infrared remote sensing. He received a B.S. in Physics from Ohio University, and a M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Atmospheric Science. Kerr was a Professor of Astronomy at Boston University from 1988-1997, and was the Aeronomy Program Manager at the National Science Foundation from 2003-2007. He is currently the Director of Arecibo Observatory, and also served in that capacity from 2007-2008. Kerr is the co-owner of Scientific Solutions Inc., an optical engineering firm in Chelmsford MA. Kerr has authored more than 30 papers in refereed journals, holds three patents, with a fourth pending. He is a member of his high school’s Academic Hall of Fame, inaugural class.

 

Abstract: The Past, Present, and Future of Arecibo Observatory

The scientific discovery, and the scientific leadership at Arecibo Observatory (AO), since its inauguration on November 1, 1963, is legendary. AO is unique among the great observatories by virtue of its scientific breadth, and by virtue of its contributions to technical education and to public outreach. AO maintains vibrant programs in Radio Astronomy, in Planetary Radar Science, in Space Physics, and in Atmospheric Science, unlike any other scientific facility. That leadership is challenged not by the quality of instrumentation and adaptability of instrumentation at AO, but by a diminuendo of funding support that has been the reality of the past decade, and more. However, it is the variety of capabilities that promise vigorous productivity at AO for generations to come. There are many opportunities for growth, and leadership, by virtue of the breadth. The critical mechanism to achieve that vibrancy is expanding participation of local and international partners and collaborators. AO capabilities and productivity will be expanded by driving to realization the dreams and aspirations of a broader scientific community of users, by expanding our footprint in technical education, and through participation in regional economic development. Arecibo Observatory will continue to dream big, and through that legacy, will achieve even bigger.