COSMOS Leadership Change

January 30, 2019


The Cosmic Evolution Survey (COSMOS) has officially changed hands this week, the second major leadership hand-off since the survey began in 2003. Caitlin Casey, Jeyhan Kartaltepe, and Vernesa Smolčić have taken over as the project's leaders as the collaboration enters its fifteenth year.

Peter Capak has led the COSMOS team for the past nine years with the help of Simon Lilly. "Since taking over leadership of COSMOS in 2010 we have replaced almost every data set we started with including major programs on Chandra, J-VLA, Keck, Spitzer, Subaru, and the VLT,” Capak shared. “In the coming years COSMOS science will likely center around observations with ALMA, J-VLA, and JWST. Casey, Kartaltepe and Smolčić are ideally placed to lead the science in these areas."

Capak is stepping aside due to his significant rolls in future space missions, including Euclid, WFIRST, and SPHEREx. Nick Scoville, the founder and first leader of COSMOS, handed over the reins to Capak in 2010.

Since its founding in 2003, over 700 manuscripts have been published using COSMOS data, both from within the team and in the broader community. Capak's leadership has made both the COSMOS collaboration and COSMOS field central to extragalactic astronomy world-wide, and the definitive touchstone for surveys in the 2020’s.

Casey, Kartaltepe and Smolcic are taking over having had the unique privilege of having lived the majority of their scientific careers with the COSMOS team. Kartaltepe and Smolcic joined as graduate students at the University of Hawai’i and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, respectively, and Casey as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona. Now as faculty members at the University of Texas at Austin (Casey), Rochester Institute of Technology (Kartaltepe) and University of Zagreb (Smolcic), they are in a keen position to usher COSMOS into a new decade with creative initiatives that teach us more about the Universe we live in.

In a message sent to the COSMOS team earlier today, Casey writes "What I love about COSMOS, first and foremost, are the people. Together, we have built such an inviting, supportive, and welcoming group that makes me excited to learn more about the Universe every day.”

COSMOS is made up of over 200 scientists in over a dozen countries. It represents a unique mesh of both a scientific philosophy with a truly unique and groundbreaking dataset.

Casey adds,”the sense of freedom to explore new ideas with such a unique and unparalleled dataset is a great privilege. And the dataset is, of course, extraordinary — sitting at the intersection of both 'small data' and 'big data' applications, from the rarest galaxies to the statistical characterization of environments, galaxy properties, and calibrations for larger projects using samples of millions.”

The team is planning to hold its next annual meeting at the Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York City this upcoming May.