Appointment of Division Director, Division of Astronomical Sciences - Debra Fischer

October 22, 2021

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Debra Fischer as Division Director for the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST), effective October 12, 2021.

 Dr. Fischer comes to NSF from Yale University, where she is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy and has served as the Dean of Academic Affairs for the Faculty of Arts and Science from 2019-2021.  She was one of the early pioneers in the search for planets orbiting other stars and is well known for her work in the detection of hundreds of extrasolar planets and the identification of key correlation between chemical composition of stars and planet formations. She has published 292 peer-reviewed articles in astronomy or instrumentation journals, 6 book chapters, and wrote an online textbook, "Origins and the Search for Life in the Universe" that is freely available.

Dr. Fischer is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She served as a community co-chair for the NASA science technology and development team for the Large UltraViolet Optical InfraRed Observatory and served on the 2012 NSF Portfolio Review. Dr. Fischer co-founded the Astronomers for Planet Earth in 2019, an international organization with more than 1000 astronomers and 3 Nobel Laureates to educate, raise consciousness and find solutions for addressing climate change.

Dr. Fischer holds a Ph.D. degree in Astrophysics from the University of California Santa Cruz and holds a primary appointment in Astronomy and secondary appointment in Earth and Planetary Science at Yale University. Please join me in welcoming Dr. Fischer to NSF. Let us also thank Dr. R. Chris Smith for his outstanding leadership as the Acting Division Director since May 2021.


Sean L. Jones

Assistant Director

Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences

National Science Foundation

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