Michael Bolte to step down as director of UC Observatories

michael bolte
Michael Bolte

Michael Bolte has announced his decision to resign as director of UC Observatories at the end of July. Bolte, who has served as director since 2006, will return to full-time teaching and research at UC Santa Cruz, where he is a professor of astronomy and astrophysics.

Sandra Faber, University Professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UCSC, will serve as interim director of UC Observatories while an international search is underway to appoint a new permanent director.

UC Observatories (UCO) is a multicampus research unit headquartered on the UC Santa Cruz campus. UCO operates the Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton and the UCO Technical Labs at UCSC, and is a managing partner of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. UCO is also the center for the UC participation in the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) project.

"Under Mike Bolte's leadership, UC Observatories has remained at the forefront of international research in astronomy and astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation, and he has played a key role in moving the TMT project forward," said UCSC chancellor George Blumenthal, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics. 

Bolte said he looks forward to concentrating more of his time on the efforts to complete the TMT partnership and initiate construction of that project. TMT is a next-generation astronomical observatory that is scheduled to begin scientific operations in 2021 on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The project is a collaboration of the University of California, California Institute of Technology, and international partners. Bolte has been active in the planning and design of the TMT and serves on the TMT Board of Directors and science advisory committee.

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 director serves on the Board of Directors of the California Association for Research in Astronomy, the governing board of Keck.

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, established with a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.