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Institute for Astronomy selects Doug Simons as its next director

The Maui News

Veteran Hawaii island astronomer Doug Simons has been selected as the next director of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy, which oversees observatories on Haleakala and Maunakea.

Simons will assume the post on Sept. 1, subject to the formal posting on the agenda of the UH Board of Regents’ meeting on Thursday.

He has worked on Maunakea since 1990 after earning his Ph.D. from the institute, and has also served as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope executive director since 2012. Simons was the Gemini Observatory director from 2006 to 2011.

“Returning to the IfA, where I received a fabulous education, brings me full circle,” Simons said in a news release Monday. “It is an honor to be chosen to lead an institution so well established globally in astronomical research, education and technology innovation. Among my goals is to broaden IfA’s impact outside of astronomy, creating a department that is an example worldwide of the potential arising from collaborative efforts between science and culture, each being enriched in ways we do not currently imagine.”

Simons has long been involved in the community, leading the establishment of the Maunakea Scholars program that allows public high school students to apply for observing time across the Maunakea Observatories for their own independent research proposals while being mentored by IfA graduate students. He also helped found A Hua He Inoa, a program where Hawaiian-speaking students and educators work with language experts and Hawaii-based astronomers to create names in ‘Olelo Hawai’i for astronomical discoveries made in Hawaii.

He also helped develop EnVision Maunakea, a community-based initiative to gather a wide range of perspectives on the future of Maunakea, and the Maunakea Fund, which advances scientific, cultural and environmental programs that represent vital interest areas for the shared future of Maunakea.

“Doug Simons is the leader IfA needs as Hawaii navigates through a pivotal period for the future of astronomy,” said UH President David Lassner, who approves the appointment recommended by Provost Michael Bruno.

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