UC appoints Michael Bolte director of UC Observatories/Lick Observatory

The University of California has appointed Michael Bolte, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, as the director of UC Observatories/Lick Observatory (UCO/Lick). The appointment, effective as of July 1, was announced jointly today (October 27) by UC Provost Rory Hume and UCSC Acting Chancellor George Blumenthal.

Michael Bolte (Photo: Tim Stephens)
UC Observatories is a multicampus research unit with headquarters at the UCSC campus. Bolte has served as interim director since Joseph S. Miller retired from the position last year to return to full-time teaching and research.

"Professor Bolte is an ideal choice for this important position," said Acting Chancellor Blumenthal. "With his proven administrative expertise, as well as his notable accomplishments both in observational astronomy and in the development of astronomical instrumentation, Mike will provide critical leadership for astronomers at UC Santa Cruz and throughout the UC system."

"The director of UCO/Lick serves in a critical academic and administrative position for the entire University of California," added Provost Hume. "Astronomers associated with UCO/Lick conduct research that has international impact and greatly expands our knowledge of the cosmos. Professor Bolte is taking the helm at an exciting time, as we cross the threshold toward a very promising era of new discovery."

UCO/Lick operates the Lick Observatory on Mt. Hamilton and the UCO Technical Labs at UCSC, and is a managing partner of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Lick Observatory, established in 1888, was the first major mountaintop observatory. It continues to be an important research site and is a leader in the development of instrumentation for adaptive optics. Most of the instruments for the Lick and Keck Observatories are designed and fabricated at UCO's technical facilities at UCSC and UCLA. The UCSC facilities include an optical lab and shops, an engineering lab, an advanced detector lab, and the Laboratory for Adaptive Optics.

The Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea houses the world's largest optical and infrared telescopes, the twin 10-meter Keck I and Keck II Telescopes. The observatory is operated by a scientific partnership among UC, the California Institute of Technology, and NASA. The UCO/Lick director serves on the Board of Directors of the California Association for Research in Astronomy, the governing board of Keck.

"I am excited by this opportunity and honored to be selected," Bolte said. "The preeminence of the University of California's astronomy community is due in large part to the outstanding facilities that we have built at Lick Observatory and Keck Observatory. I am looking forward to taking on the challenges of keeping Lick Observatory vital, maintaining the Keck Observatory at the research vanguard, and using the vast talent pool in UCO and UC astronomy to help design, fund, and build the Thirty-Meter Telescope. I am also humbled by the magnitude of these challenges and inspired by the lofty standards set by previous directors who have led UC astronomy to its current distinction in world astronomy."

The Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) will be the first of a new generation of giant ground-based telescopes. The project is a collaborative effort involving UC, Caltech, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), and the Association of Canadian Universities for Research in Astronomy (ACURA). Bolte has been active in the planning and design of the TMT and is currently on the TMT Board of Directors.

Bolte's research interests include the evolution of stars and the nature of the earliest stars to form in the universe. Much of his research involves observations of the oldest stars and star clusters in our Milky Way galaxy to better understand the first epoch of star formation. Bolte was coprincipal investigator on the Echellete Spectrograph and Imager on the 10-meter Keck II Telescope, and he led the development of a new prime-focus camera for the 3-meter Shane Telescope at Lick Observatory.

Bolte earned his B.S. in physics from the University of Central Florida, his M.S. in physics from Florida State University, and his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Washington. He was a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at UCSC before joining the UCSC faculty in 1993.

UCSC is one of the world's leading centers for both observational and theoretical research in astronomy and astrophysics. The Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics includes 25 faculty members, whose research interests range from the solar system and the Milky Way to the most distant galaxies in the universe and the most fundamental questions of cosmology.


Note to reporters: To arrange an interview with Director Bolte, please contact the UCSC Public Affairs Office, (831) 459-2495.

A photo of Bolte can be downloaded from the web at http://www.ucsc.edu/news_events/press/photos/