Astronomer Wendy Freedman Named Director of Carnegie Observatories

Press Release From: Carnegie Institution
Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Wendy L. Freedman has been named director of the California-based Carnegie Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Regarded among the world's premier astronomers, she takes her new post on March 1, succeeding Augustus Oemler, Jr., who will return to research as a Staff Member of the Observatories.

In making the announcement, Carnegie Institution's chairman of the board, Tom Urban, stated: "On behalf of the trustees, we are delighted Dr. Freedman has agreed to become director. She's been an invaluable member of our observatories' research faculty for almost two decades and her work as a leader on the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project was extraordinary in determining the rate at which the universe is expanding.

"We would like to also commend Dr. Oemler for his leadership and are most pleased that he will be continuing his research at the observatories."

After earning a Ph.D. in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Toronto, Dr. Freedman joined Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena as a postdoctoral fellow in 1984 and became a faculty member of the scientific staff there three years later. Studies of the extragalactic distance scale, galactic evolution, and stellar populations have won her such honors as the Marc Aaronson Lectureship and Prize, The Centennial Lectureship of the American Physical Society, The Darwin Lectureship of the Royal Astronomical Society, and the Cosmos Club Award. Last year, she received the American Philosophical Society's Magellanic Prize for her leadership in bringing observational cosmology into the 21st century.

Among scientists saluting Dr. Freedman on her new assignment was Nobel laureate Joe Taylor, Princeton astrophysicist and former dean of the faculty. "Wendy Freedman is a superb choice as director--an extremely capable and imaginative scientist with immense energy and good judgment."

Added Nobel laureate Leon Lederman: "She integrates all the elements that make for the heroic scientist: persistence, imagination, a leader, a role model.Her work on the Hubble Constant is a classic illustration of her taste for important science and the need for extraordinary care in understanding the hazards and responsibility for precision--a brand new element in astrophysics.Lucky Carnegie!"

Dr. Freedman is scheduled to give a public lecture about the expansion of the universe at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, on March 13. Her talk is the first in a series of lectures sponsored by the library and Carnegie Observatories. For more information, contact Nancy N. Davis at 626-304-0270.

The Carnegie Institution of Washington (, a pioneering force in basic scientific research since 1902, is a private, nonprofit organization with six research departments in the U.S.: Plant Biology, Global Ecology, Embryology, the Geophysical Laboratory, the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, and the Carnegie Observatories.

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