Pierre Cox is Appointed as New ALMA Director

The ALMA Board announced today, 14 November 2012, that Pierre Cox has been appointed as the next Director of ALMA, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array. Cox will take up duty on 1 April 2013, for a period of five years, at the end of Thijs the Graauw’s term as ALMA Director. Thijs de Graauw, who has been the ALMA Director since 2008, brought the observatory through many milestones in his five-year term, including the start of its science observations, in 2011.

Cox has been the Director of IRAM (Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique) since 2006. IRAM operates the Plateau de Bure Interferometer (PdBI) near Grenoble, France, and its 30-meter telescope on Pico Veleta, Spain — both telescopes observing at millimetre-wavelengths — on behalf of its three partners: the German Max-Planck-Gesellschaft (MPG), the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Spanish Instituto Geográfico Nacional (IGN).

Pierre Cox is well known scientifically in the area of millimetre and infrared observations of star-forming regions, evolved stars and high-redshift galaxies, and has published over 200 papers with more than 10 000 citations in total. As IRAM Director, he is responsible for a staff of more than 120 scientists, engineers, technicians and administrative personnel. He has put great personal effort into improving relations with the local communities near the PdBI. As Director, he has also raised the scientific standards of IRAM, by opening up the facilities to the larger community beyond the IRAM partners, including to the United States, and to large programmes with a high scientific impact. As a result, the PdBI and IRAM 30-meter telescope are currently very heavily oversubscribed, demonstrating the strong demand for these facilities. To his role as the new ALMA Director, Cox therefore brings his great experience in dealing with a complex multinational organisation, as well as a multinational user community. Cox is fluent in many languages, including Spanish.

Cox is also already familiar with ALMA and its organisation, as one of the founding ALMA Scientific Advisory Committee and European Scientific Advisory Committee members, who supported and promoted the project both with scientists and funding agencies in the late 1990s. Since then he has stayed in close contact with ALMA through various committees. In 2007, he chaired the review committee of the ALMA operations plan. IRAM is responsible for building the ALMA Band 7 receivers (delivered on time and well within specifications) and also hosts one of the European ALMA Regional Centre nodes. Several IRAM staff members have played key roles in ALMA commissioning and science verification activities.

The Director General of NAOJ, Dr. Masahiko Hayashi, said “I am extremely pleased with the selection of Pierre Cox as the next Director of Joint ALMA Observatory. He is the right person to bring ALMA construction to completion, leading the observatory to exploit its unprecedented scientific capability based on his deep knowledge of radio interferometry and rich experience in observatory operations. We are all looking forward to working with him.”

The photo below shows Dr. Pierre Cox signing the contract for the ALMA Band 7 receivers.
Credit: P. Cox

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