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ESO 03/07 - Organisation Release

11 January 2007
For Immediate Release

Tim de Zeeuw to Become the Next Director General of ESO

The ESO Council has just appointed Tim de Zeeuw, 50, as the next Director General of ESO, effective as of 1 September 2007, when the current Director General, Catherine Cesarsky will complete her mandate.

ESO PR Photo 02/07
ESO PR Photo 03/07

Professor Tim de Zeeuw

"ESO is Europe's flagship organisation for ground-based astronomy," said, Richard Wade, President of the ESO Council. "The ESO Council is very pleased that Professor de Zeeuw has accepted the task as its next Director General. He has played a key role over the last few years in developing a strategic vision for ESO, and I have every confidence that he will now lead the organisation in the realisation of that exciting vision."

Tim de Zeeuw has an excellent record, both as a highly respected scientist and as a leader of an internationally recognised science institute in the Netherlands. He is Scientific Director of the Leiden Observatory, a research institute in the College of Mathematics and Natural Sciences of Leiden University. Tim de Zeeuw also has considerable experience as regards science policy issues.

Catherine Cesarsky, ESO's current Director General commented: "Over the recent years, ESO has developed considerably with more activities and new member states, and with its ambitious project portfolio, ESO is clearly facing an exciting future. I shall be delighted to pass the baton to Tim de Zeeuw, who as a recent Council member is very familiar with our Organisation."

"It is a great honour and an exciting challenge to lead this world-class organisation in the years to come in support of one of the most dynamic areas of science today," said de Zeeuw. "I look forward to overseeing the continued upgrading of the Very Large Telescope with the second-generation instrumentation and the completion of the ALMA project, and in particular to help developing the future European Extremely Large Telescope."

Tim de Zeeuw's main research interests embrace the formation, structure and dynamics of galaxies, including our own Galaxy, the Milky Way. A second area of research is the study of the origin, structure, and evolution of associations of young, massive stars in the Solar Neighbourhood.

He obtained his PhD from the University of Leiden in 1980, moving on to work at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and subsequently at Caltech in Pasadena. He has received several honours and awards and is the author of a large number of research papers.

In the 1990's, Tim de Zeeuw was involved in the development of an advanced panoramic integral-field spectrograph for the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope, while also working as the Principal Investigator of a major research project using the Hipparcos database to conduct a comprehensive census of nearby young stellar groups.

In 1993, he became the founding director of NOVA, the Netherlands Research School for Astronomy, which coordinates the graduate education and astronomical research at the five university astronomy institutes in the Netherlands. Today, NOVA supports 25% of the university astronomy positions in The Netherlands and, by reinvigorating the university groups, it has contributed to strongly increasing the international visibility of Dutch astronomy and enabled an intensified Dutch participation in the ESO activities.

He is also the co-founder of the Lorentz Center, an international centre for Astronomy, Mathematics and Physics in Leiden.

Tim de Zeeuw regularly advises NWO, the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. During the years he has served on the Time Allocation Committee for the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, and, since 2003, as the Chairman of the Space Telescope Institute Council in Baltimore. He also serves on the AURA Board of Directors, and on the ESA Space Science Advisory Committee, and leads the development of a Science Vision for European Astronomy as part of the EU ASTRONET initiative.

Tim de Zeeuw has also served for three years as the Dutch national astronomy delegate to the ESO Council. As a member of the ESO Council he participated in the work of the Council Scientific Strategy Working Group, which resulted in the Council resolution of December 2004 outlining ESO's strategic goals. More recently, as new Chair of this Working Group, he has been elaborating various scenarios for ESO's future role in European astronomy.

Tim de Zeeuw is married to Dutch astronomer Ewine van Dishoeck.

National contacts for the media:
Belgium - Dr. Rodrigo Alvarez +32-2-474 70 50
Finland - Ms. Riitta Tirronen +358 9 7748 8369
Denmark - Dr. Michael Linden-Vørnle +45-33-18 19 97
France - Dr. Daniel Kunth +33-1-44 32 80 85
Germany - Dr. Jakob Staude +49-6221-528229
Italy - Dr. Leopoldo Benacchio +39-347-230 26 51
The Netherlands - Ms. Marieke Baan +31-20-525 74 80
Portugal - Prof. Teresa Lago +351-22-089 833
Sweden - Dr. Jesper Sollerman +46-8-55 37 85 54
Switzerland - Dr. Martin Steinacher +41-31-324 23 82
United Kingdom - Mr. Peter Barratt +44-1793-44 20 25