Philip J. Erickson (headshot)
Photo: Joy LeDuc Philip J. Erickson, new director of MIT Haystack Observatory

Philip J. Erickson named director of MIT Haystack Observatory

December 21, 2023
Categories: Colin J. Lonsdale , Philip J. Erickson
Associate director and geospace lead scientist to succeed Colin Lonsdale as director.

We would like to announce that Philip J. Erickson will become director of MIT Haystack Observatory on January 1, 2024. Phil will build upon the successful tenure of longtime director Colin J. Lonsdale, who in July shared his intent to step down and renew his focus on research.

Phil is currently associate director, principal research scientist, and head of the Haystack atmospheric and geospace sciences group, as well as lead principal investigator for the National Science Foundation–sponsored Millstone Hill Geospace Facility. In an announcement to the MIT community introducing Phil as the new Haystack director, vice president for research Maria Zuber said, “The Observatory and its community of researchers are in excellent hands.” 

An interdisciplinary research center, MIT Haystack Observatory was built in 1961 as part of MIT Lincoln Laboratory and gained independent status in 1970. The Haystack mission is to develop technology for radio science applications, to study the structure of our galaxy and the larger universe, advance scientific knowledge of our planet and its space environment, and contribute to the education of future scientists and engineers. Research groups in astronomy, geodesy, geospace, and space technology are united by a focus on radio science. Located approximately 30 miles northwest of MIT’s Cambridge campus, the Haystack facility supports a number of large radio telescopes and antennas. Research and engineering projects encompass both local radio science and technology development as well as global leadership and collaboration in the field.

Haystack staff are deeply grateful to Colin for his 15-year leadership of Haystack as director. Colin will continue working at Haystack as a principal research scientist, and says that he now looks forward to resuming research in the study of active galaxies, solar emissions at low radio frequencies, and concepts for innovative radio science space missions.

More details are available in an MIT News article: