NASA: turmoil at astrophysics

Sometimes correlation is causation:

"Laurie Leshin, deputy associate administrator of exploration systems for NASA, will join Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as dean of the School of Science. "
(RPI news)


"...Jon Morse, director of the Science Mission Directorate's Astrophysics Division and Laurie's husband, also will be leaving government to join RPI as the associate vice president for research."

That leaves Astrophysics without a director, as the 2012 appropriations are coming up.

This would not be a fun time to step into the position, with the threat of massive cuts looming.
JWST is, of course, at risk of being eliminated completely, but either way is no longer within the Astrophysics Division, and that money ain't coming back.

Interesting times.

Oh, and while I have your attention - anyone have insight into why only some of the 2011 GSRPs have been announced - the li'l ones are in, up to JPL, but not GSFC, Ames or HQ?
What gives? Waiting on JWST decision for prioritization?

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Not a coincidence. Laurie Leshin and Jon Morse are married.

By Deepto Chakrabary (not verified) on 26 Jul 2011 #permalink

I am thinking that now would be a good time to go into administration in a well funded but private university. Either that, or leave the US entirely.

What are we going to do with all of these grad students?

Train the grad students to go to wall street, encourage education in finance. Astrophysicists should make excellent quants on wall street to invent yet more arcane financial structures so we can have another crash soon. Quants exist on the belief that humans are rational in matters involving money
which of course is vastly untrue.

Ahh yes, I should probably read past the first line...

By Deepto Chakrabarty (not verified) on 26 Jul 2011 #permalink

Many Columbia physics and astrophysics PhDs (and even some faculty) have gone to wall street to become quants. And look at us now. I share Lyle's sentiment.

By astronomist (not verified) on 26 Jul 2011 #permalink

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is producing a lot of interesting research. And one of their number (Mike Sofka) runs a internet discussion list about my favourite SF author/polymath, Stanislaw Lem.

BTW, I hope the space telescope gets enough support to prevent it being axed.

By Birger Johansson (not verified) on 26 Jul 2011 #permalink

Actually, there are no good times not to have a Division Director. In fact, by the time Morse leaves, the FY13 package to OMB will have been developed, and the FY12 FY will have started. Now, if we're going to drop into CR mode continuously until next March or so, having an Astrophysics Director isn't going to make a lot of difference.

Morse leaves behind a huge mess, but it really isn't largely his fault. From a management perspective, this is actually a pretty good time to leave. When you hit bottom, it's time for a new person to come in and climb out. Not sure who would want to take his job, though. Perhaps an internal appointment?

I am thinking that now would be a good time to go into administration in a well funded but private university.

As did Morse and Leshin, apparently. Gettin' while the gettin' is good. Also nice to fail, if not upward, out to an academic position. Not a possibility for most of us left in the Astro divisions.

(It's possible you were being sarcastic and it whooshed over my head)

Either that, or leave the US entirely.

Not an option for most of us non-EU passport holders, I'm afraid.

@Deepto - so what is Bryan O'Connor's excuse...? ;-)

@All - yes, Yoorp, or high level private administration is probably looking like an interesting out to a lot of people with their ear to the ground...

@Astronomist: "What sphinx of cement and aluminium bashed open their skulls and ate up their brains and imagination?"