OU Professor Tom Statler elected Vice Chair of the Division on Dynamical Astronomy


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 2005-2006.

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 1998.

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 science education.

"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 winners.

"It isn't every day you get an asteroid in the mail." Statler says. [April 2004]


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