Tom Statler, associate professor of physics and astronomy, has been
elected vice chair of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the
American Astronomical Society. Statler will serve as vice chair from
April 2004 to April 2005, and then as chair of the Division for
The American Astronomical Society is the major organization of
professional astronomers in North America, with over 6,000 members.
The Divison on Dynamical Astronomy was established in the 1960's,
largely to advance techniques in spacecraft navigation for the U.S.
space program. Its current membership of over 300 scientists work on
problems as diverse as the structure of Saturn's rings, the orbits of
planets around other stars, the detection of supermassive black holes,
and the formation of galaxies, Statler explains that they "share an
appreciation for things that move in the universe."
Statler has been a member of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy since
Statler's duties as vice chair will be primarily to organize the
scientific program for the annual meeting. He hopes to find new ways
for astronomers to share discoveries and developments, and to "uncover
opportunities for collaboration in places they wouldn't necessarily
think to look." He also wants the Division to become more active in
"Astronomers are wonderful at engaging the public's excitement, and each
other's as well." Statler says. He cites one scientist who asked
members of the Division to bet on the exact path an asteroid would take
as it passed the Earth, and sent accurate models of the asteroid to the
"It isn't every day you get an asteroid in the mail." Statler says.