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US Department of State

Kenneth Lanzetta. Photo from SBU

The US Department of State and the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board have selected Stony Brook University Professor Kenneth Lanzetta, PhD, in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, as a Fulbright US Scholar for 2024-2025. Professor Lanzetta will spend the next academic year in Chile, where he will collaborate with the Astronomy Department at the University of Concepción (UdeC) and deploy a new telescope in the Atacama Astronomical Park.

The “Condor Array Telescope Atacama” – or Condor Atacama – is an expanded version of Professor Lanzetta’s “Condor Array Telescope,” which was deployed in New Mexico three years ago and has since detected several galactic and extragalactic phenomena too faint for other telescopes to pick up on. His new, enhanced version will take advantage of the Atacama Desert’s extreme altitude, clear weather conditions, and dark environment, which make it highly suited to astronomical observation. According to Lanzetta, Condor Atacama could potentially become the world’s most sensitive astronomical imaging telescope.

“I am delighted by the selection of Professor Lanzetta as a Fulbright US Scholar for 2024-2025. This recognized the potential of the ‘Condor Array Telescope’ that is based on a possibly paradigm shifting astronomical telescope technology,” said Chang Kee Jung, Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.  “While almost all modern astronomical research telescopes use reflecting optics and charge-coupled device (CCD) sensors, Condor uses refracting optics, and newer and faster complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) sensors, which allow it to see things that are missed by conventional telescopes. Deploying Condor in Atacama, a premier site for telescopes, opens up a greater opportunity for discoveries. I am looking forward to receiving exciting news that Professor Lanzetta will deliver from Chile.”

UdeC Professor Rodrigo Andrés Reeves Díaz, PhD, a local expert with experience deploying astronomical instrumentation in the Atacama Desert, will provide guidance on the project and serve as Professor Lanzetta’s host at the university. In exchange, Lanzetta will present a series of seminars to Astronomy Department faculty and graduate students, as well as a public seminar on the department’s behalf.

This project looks to fulfill the Fulbright mission of promoting international collaboration by fostering a partnership between Stony Brook and UdeC. Astronomical communities across the US and Chile will benefit from the deployment and operation of Condor Atacama, and the telescope’s unique imaging capabilities are poised to leave a legacy on the field of astronomy at large.

“I am very much looking forward to spending the next academic year in Chile on a Fulbright Scholar award,” said Professor Lanzetta. “Condor Atacama is a very exciting project, and this visit will allow me to work on deploying the telescope to the Atacama Astronomical Park, which is among the very best astronomical sites in the world. And I am especially looking forward to meeting new people and forming new friendships among my new colleagues at the University of Concepción.”

Professor Lanzetta has been part of Stony Brook’s Department of Physics and Astronomy for more than 30 years. Previously, he was a Hubble Fellow in the Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. He has a BA in Physics from the University of Pennsylvania and a PhD in Physics from the University of Pittsburgh. He completed his postdoctoral research at the Institute of Astronomy of the University of Cambridge.

Lanzetta is among roughly 800 faculty members, researchers, administrators and established professionals selected for the 2024-2025 Fulbright US Scholar Program. Also offering opportunities abroad for students and recent graduates, Fulbright is the flagship international academic exchange program sponsored by the United States government. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Fulbright Program, which operates in more than 160 countries annually.