sci21012 — Announcement
Introduction of New ESA Hubble & Webb Project Scientist and Head of ESA Office at STScI
29 December 2021
-By Chris Evans-
New ESA Hubble and Webb Project Scientist: Chris Evans
I started out at University College London, first as an undergraduate and then as a postgraduate. On my first observing runs I used the Two-degree Field (2dF) facility on the Anglo-Australian Telescope for a survey of massive stars in the Small Magellanic Cloud. 2dF was still fairly new, and it blew me away at the time that in just a handful of nights we assembled a spectroscopic sample that was a hundred times that of all the past efforts combined. This was a first hook for me into the power of new instrumentation, and sparked my interest in shaping future facilities.
In 2002 I moved to a postdoctoral position at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in La Palma. I initially worked on Hubble ultraviolet observations of massive stars in the Magellanic Clouds, but also took on a leading role in a large European Southern Observatory (ESO) programme (he VLT-FLAMES Survey of Massive Stars) to quantify the effects of metallicity on massive-star evolution. The FLAMES project brought me together with a fantastic group of collaborators across Europe and in the US, many of whom I still work closely with today. In 2008 I started the VLT-FLAMES Tarantula Survey, an ambitious multi-epoch spectroscopic survey of massive stars in the dramatic 30 Doradus star-forming region. An early result was the discovery of a massive runaway O-type star, supported by some of the first data from the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph after Servicing Mission 5. More than a decade on, we’ve now published over 35 papers from the survey, with the results prompting several follow-up studies with Hubble, Chandra and ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT).
I wanted to extend my work to galaxies beyond the Local Group, and while in La Palma I got involved in developing the science case for ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope (ELT). In 2005 I joined the UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UKATC) in Edinburgh to work on early design studies for ELT instruments. Since then I have worked on a fascinating range of projects, including as Project Scientist for the multi-object spectrograph for the ELT (MOSAIC) during its conceptual design and, most recently, as Project Scientist for the development a new near-UV spectrograph for the VLT (CUBES). Since 2015 I have been the Head of Science at the UKATC and the PI of the UK’s ELT Programme, which supports the UK’s roles in several ELT instruments.
I’m thrilled to be joining the ESA team in Baltimore. I’ve been a regular visitor to STScI over the years, including serving on several time allocation committees as a panel member and chair. It will be tremendously exciting to see the first results from Webb, and I’m eager to work with the community on the early science data to see what the instruments are capable of across the breadth of science topics. I’m also delighted to be joining the Hubble team. In my own field, the ULLYSES project is a powerful example of the unique contribution of Hubble, and I’m keen to help maximise the legacy value of its capabilities. With science operations of both missions in the coming years, this is a remarkable time to be joining the team, and I’m looking forward to all of the new discoveries ahead of us.
ESA/HST & ESA/JWST Project Scientist
STScI Baltimore, USA
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