New assistant director named at EVLA

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Dr. Dale Frail, longtime Socorro resident and National Radio Astronomy Observatory astronomer, becomes NRAO’s new assistant director for the Expanded Very Large Array and the Very Long Baseline Array, and site director for New Mexico operations on Aug. 1.

 

 

Frail replaces Robert Dickman, who moved to NRAO’s headquarters in Charlottesville, VA, earlier this year.

“Dale will provide excellent scientific leadership for the EVLA and VLBA and will reach out effectively to the broad astronomical research community. He will be responsible for maximizing the scientific impact of these world-class research facilities,” said NRAO Director Fred K.Y. Lo.

Frail came to Socorro as an NRAO Jansky Postdoctoral Fellow at the end of 1989, and joined the observatory’s permanent staff in 1993. Since then, he has served in a variety of roles, including heading the observatory’s Division of Science and Academic Affairs, managing the postdoctoral and Jansky Fellowship programs, the Jansky Lectureship, and the NRAO colloquium series. He also has served as a visiting scientist at Caltech and at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel.

Frail is best known for his landmark contributions to the understanding of gamma ray bursts, making critical measurements that provided key insights into the mechanisms of these superenergetic and once-mysterious explosions. He also has made important contributions to the understanding of other astronomical phenomena, including pulsars and their neighborhoods, supernova remnants, and magnetars.

In 1992, he was the co-discoverer, with Alex Wolszczan, of the first planets outside our own solar system.

Frail received his Ph.D in astronomy from the University of Toronto. He received a postdoctoral fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada prior to joining NRAO.

Frail’s wife, Ruth Milner, worked as a computing manager at NRAO until 2004, and has served on a number of local public school committees. The couple has two children, Sarah, a student at Socorro High School, and Matthew, a student at Cottonwood Valley Charter School. The couple, who met at a Canadian radio observatory, will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary in August.

“I am excited to take on this new responsibility,” Frail said. “NRAO operates two of the most powerful telescopes in the world from its building on the campus of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. My family and I live in Socorro, as do most of the NRAO staff, and we are pleased to call Socorro our home.”

In 2010, Frail received a prestigious John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, an honor shared with such distinguished past recipients as photographer Ansel Adams, author Saul Bellow, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, and chemist Linus Pauling.

As part of the science team for NASA’s Swift satellite, he shared in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s Muhlmann Award in 2009 and in the American Astronomical Society’s Bruno Rossi Prize in 2007.

 


Contact Dave Finley