American Astronomical Society Names New Director Of Public Policy

Nov 01, 2012, 09:00 ET from American Astronomical Society

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Astronomical Society (AAS), the foremost professional organization for research astronomers in North America, is pleased to announce that Dr. Joel Parriott will take up duties as Director of Public Policy for the Society as of November 26, 2012.

Parriott brings to the AAS a decade of experience at the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), where he was responsible for both the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science. Prior to his service at OMB, Dr. Parriott spent four years at the National Research Council (NRC) on the staff of the Board on Physics and Astronomy, where he supported numerous high-level studies, including the Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

The AAS has long benefited from advocacy by member volunteers, such as those on its Committee on Astronomy and Public Policy (CAPP) established 30 years ago and, more recently, those participating in its Communicating with Washington program of visits to legislators' offices. Thanks to the John Bahcall Public Policy Fellowship, inaugurated in 2006, several early-career astronomers have had the opportunity to gain experience in the world of science policy and to augment the advocacy programs of the Society during their two-year appointments in the AAS Executive Office. The addition of a senior full-time staffer focused on policy issues will strengthen these efforts and will enhance the ability of the AAS to fulfill its mission by representing the goals of its members to the nation and the world.

"The coming years are going to be especially challenging for astronomy," says AAS President Dr. David J. Helfand. "We have significant scientific opportunities and budgetary needs, yet the fiscal climate in which we find ourselves places severe constraints on what we can accomplish. By enhancing our public-policy activities with the appointment of Dr. Parriott, we will have a greater impact inside the Beltway, to the benefit of our whole discipline."

Dr. Kevin B. Marvel, AAS Executive Officer, adds, "Joel brings to the AAS a level of expertise and depth of experience specifically related to astronomy policy that is rare in Washington. His broader experience overseeing NSF and the DOE Office of Science is icing on the cake. I look forward to supporting him as he builds the AAS' substantial public-policy program into a truly world-class operation."

Before going to Washington, Parriott studied physics as an undergraduate at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota, then earned his doctorate in astronomy at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. "I'm excited to take up this challenging position at the AAS," said Parriott. "Being an astronomer myself, I look forward to actively supporting my discipline by focusing my knowledge and experience on the policy problems of the day."

The American Astronomical Society (AAS), established in 1899 and based in Washington, DC, is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership of about 7,500 individuals also includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers, and others whose research and educational interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects now comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS is to enhance and share humanity's scientific understanding of the universe. Among its many activities, the AAS publishes three of the leading peer-reviewed journals in the field: The Astrophysical Journal, The Astronomical Journal, and Astronomy Education Review. Note: This release is online, with links and a photo of Dr. Parriott, at

SOURCE American Astronomical Society