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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M professor to co-chair Astro 2020 survey

Professor+Kennicutt+will+co-chair+Astro+2020+Decadal+Survey.
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Professor Kennicutt will co-chair Astro 2020 Decadal Survey.

Texas A&M professor Robert Kennicutt has been selected to serve as co-chair of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Astro 2020 Decadal Survey.
Every 10 years, the U.S. Congress commissions a survey to assess recent astronomical discoveries and prioritize research projects for funding, Kennicutt said. He will be at the forefront of deciding which projects are most deserving of financial support. More than 100 projects are pitched and the survey must narrow them down to about 10 projects to present to Congress, giving the survey significant political influence and prestige.
Kennicutt’s experience in this field has put him at the cutting edge of new developments in astronomy. He said the opportunity to be part of the Astro 2020 survey is especially significant because of the project’s scope and magnitude.
“Nobel Prize winning research is being done all the time,” Kennicutt said. “Astronomers, like all scientists, have more ideas of ways to spend the government’s money than we can afford.
Kennicutt said experts should look at the costs, risks, technical requirements and overall scientific importance of each proposed idea.
“It’s a very complicated and complex process but it’s essential,” Kennicutt said. “I think we owe it to the taxpayers to do the most vigorous job we can.”
Professor and head of the A&M’s physics and astronomy department Grigory Rogachev said he sees the impact of having a member of A&M’s astronomy team serving as co-chair of the decadal survey.
“This survey determines a large extent of research and development,” Rogachev said. “It is very important that one of our faculty members is actually shaping those priorities and shaping the future of astronomy. So obviously, it is very significant for us and it is great that we will have a faculty member to have that knowledge of development.”
Chemistry freshman Caiden LaFontaine said he is minoring in astrophysics and is excited about the opportunities Kennicutt’s appointment presents to him as a student in the physics and astronomy department.
“My career goal is to work at NASA, and this is big because it is increasing the popularity and scope of the physics and astronomy department,” LaFontaine said. “It opens a lot of new doors, especially for people who are interested in that type of career path, and it’s something that I am really excited about.”
of the Astro 2020 survey is especially significant because of the project’s scope and magnitude.
“Nobel Prize winning research is being done all the time,” Kennicutt said. “Astronomers, like all scientists, have more ideas of ways to spend the government’s money than we can afford.”
Kennicutt said experts should look at the costs, risks, technical requirements and overall scientific importance of each proposed idea.
“It’s a very complicated and complex process, but it’s essential,” Kennicutt said. “I think we owe it to the taxpayers to do the most vigorous job we can.”
Professor and head of the A&M’s physics and astronomy department Grigory Rogachev said he sees the impact of having a member of A&M’s astronomy team serving as co-chair of the decadal survey.
“This survey determines a large extent of research and development,” Rogachev said. “It is very important that one of our faculty members is actually shaping those priorities and shaping the future of astronomy. So obviously, it is very significant for us and it is great that we will have a faculty member to have that knowledge of development.”
Chemistry Sophomore Caden LaFontaine said he is minoring in astrophysics and is excited about the opportunities Kennicutt’s appointment presents to him as a student in the physics and astronomy department.
“My career goal is to work at NASA, and this is big because it is increasing the popularity and scope of the physics and astronomy department,” LaFontaine said. “It opens a lot of new doors, especially for people who are interested in that type of career path, and it’s something that I am really excited about.”

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