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Report of the General Board on the establishment of a Readership in Astronomy

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. The Institute of Astronomy, together with research groups in the Department of Physics and the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, form one of the largest and most highly regarded astronomy research centres in Europe, and one of the top few in the world. The study of Astronomy is in a period of rapid expansion and progress, with major new telescopes and satellites providing new challenges and opportunities, redefining our understanding of the nature of matter, of energy, and of the Universe.

2. Theoretical astronomy has been a traditional strength since the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy merged with the Cambridge Observatories to form the Institute of Astronomy in the 1960s. World-class observational research has also been maintained throughout this period; such research at the Institute exploits international telescope and satellite facilities at a range of wavelengths from radio to high-energy X-rays to study objects from individual stars to clusters of galaxies. The Institute's research strengths support and guide the Institute's teaching of Astrophysics in Parts II and III of the Natural Sciences Tripos and in the Mathematical Tripos in which all the academic staff in the Institute are engaged.

3. The Institute of Astronomy is now keen to strengthen its research profile in observational astronomy following the election, as Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy, of Professor R. C. Kennicutt whose research is in this field. It therefore seeks to establish a post at Readership level, with a preference for an observer, in order to attract a strong field of observers with international reputations. These developments provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen the Institute's research profile in new areas of astrophysics in advance of the Research Assessment Exercise in 2007, and further enhance the Institute's ability to attract research grants to add to the already strong portfolio of research grant income.

4. The proposed establishment of this Readership for a single tenure will be funded by holding in abeyance the Lectureship vacated by the departure of Dr O. Lahav and the additional recurrent funding necessary will be provided by the Institute of Astronomy. The Council of the School of the Physical Sciences and the Faculty Board of Physics and Chemistry support the case made by the Institute.

5. The General Board have accepted the Council of the School of the Physical Sciences' proposal for the establishment of the Readership for one tenure.

6. The criteria for appointment to a Readership through open competition will be identical to those for appointment through promotion. Regulations already exist for the constitution of the Appointments Committee (Statutes and Ordinances, p. 695).

7. The General Board accordingly recommend that a Readership in Astronomy be established in the Institute of Astronomy for one tenure from 1 October 2005.


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Cambridge University Reporter 27 April 2005
Copyright © 2005 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.