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NMSU graduate to head American Astronomical Society

Kevin Marvel, who earned his master's and doctoral degrees in astronomy at New Mexico State University, has been selected as the executive officer of the American Astronomical Society.



New Mexico State University graduate Kevin Marvel has been selected as executive officer of the American Astronomical Society. (Photo courtesy of AAS)


The AAS, with about 6,600 members, is the main professional organization for astronomers in North America. Based in Washington, D.C., the society publishes four scientific journals, conducts two scientific meetings a year and promotes the advancement of astronomy through public policy and educational activities.

Marvel will succeed Robert Milkey, who will retire in July after 11 years of service.

Marvel received his master's degree at NMSU in 1994 and his Ph.D. in 1996. His doctoral dissertation research was conducted at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) headquartered in Socorro.

He has maintained ties with the university since then, including serving on the Arts and Sciences Dean's Advisory Council for Excellence in the Sciences.

"That has been useful and fun, a group of people advising the dean on aspects of science and how we can improve science resources on campus," he said. "I've also made a couple of research trips to the VLA (the NRAO's Very Large Array radio observatory) and we always run down and visit the astronomy department when we can."

Marvel lives in Alexandria, Va., with his wife Tamara Koch, a journalism graduate of NMSU who works as a German-to-English language translator.

A self-described "complete and utter green chile addict," he has his own chile roaster at home and calls on New Mexico friends to ship sacks of fresh chiles to him each fall.

"When we were at school there, I had a sailboat that we would sail on weekends at Elephant Butte," he added. "Now we're less than a mile from the water. But we miss New Mexico."

Marvel joined the AAS Executive Office as the head of policy programs in 1998 and subsequently undertook additional responsibility as deputy executive officer and manager of AAS-printed publications.

"Kevin has been a terrific addition to the AAS Washington office, energizing our public policy work," said AAS President Robert Kirshner, who chaired the search committee that selected Marvel for the executive position. "He has the energy and drive to make sure the American Astronomical Society succeeds in all parts of its mission. I'm sure he will be an excellent executive officer for the AAS."