10th November 2011, Manchester, UK – The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope project is very pleased to announce that Dr Michiel van Haarlem is to be appointed Interim Director General of the new SKA organisation currently in the final stages of establishment. Dr van Haarlem will succeed Prof Richard Schilizzi who has decided to retire at the end of the year after nine years as Project Director.
Dr van Haarlem will initiate full operation of the SKA Project Office (which replaces the SKA Program Development Office) and will work with international partners to lead the transition of the project from an academic collaboration to the organisation that will oversee the pre-construction phase. This period will also see the transfer of operations from central Manchester to the new location of the SKA Project Office in a purpose-built building funded by the University of Manchester at Jodrell Bank in Cheshire, UK.
The Interim Director General will remain in position until a permanent Director General is appointed. The SKA Board is currently seeking candidates for the position of SPO Director General and the appointment will follow a process that is expected to conclude in mid 2012.
Michiel van Haarlem studied astronomy and received his PhD from the University of Leiden in 1992. After a year working for Shell’s research laboratory as a reservoir engineer, he returned to astronomy as a post-doc in Durham (UK). He joined ASTRON, in the Netherlands, in 1996 to work on predictions of
21 cm HI observations of distant galaxies by the SKA. For the past 13 years he has been closely involved with the LOFAR project, since 2007 as Managing Director responsible for its design and construction.