Dr. Massimo Stiavelli

Dr. Massimo Stiavelli

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News release ID: STScI-2013-19
Release Date: May 7, 2013
Image Use: Copyright
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The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) has appointed Dr. Massimo Stiavelli as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) Mission Head.

Dr. Stiavelli will be responsible for the development and operations of the JWST Science and Operations Center at STScI. He has been acting JWST Mission Head since January 2012.

The largest space observatory ever developed, JWST is scheduled for launch in 2018.

"Massimo Stiavelli is a world-renowned astrophysicist in the area of the high-redshift universe, which JWST is specifically designed to probe. During his role first as Project Scientist at STScI, then the Acting Mission Head, Massimo demonstrated exceptional leadership, so what better person to lead the Institute's JWST team into the transition to science operations," says STScI Director Dr. Matt Mountain.

Stiavelli succeeds Dr. Kathy Flanagan, who was appointed the Institute's Deputy Director in October 2012.

"The team that Dr. Flanagan had built is very strong, motivated, and it makes my job a lot easier," Stiavelli says. "My primary goals are creating a vision for the mission, keeping the astronomical community and the public informed about developments in the JWST mission, communicating mission priorities to staff, and making sure mission staff have the resources to do their jobs," Stiavelli explains.

Stiavelli enjoys the opportunity of working with the many different partners who have a stake in the JWST mission. "Our partners see building the observatory and launching it into space as our goal," Stiavelli said. "Enabling astronomers to carry out their science and communicating their results to the public is our goal after launch. We want to make sure that the telescope is able to do the science it was built for."

Stiavelli has worked at the Institute for over 17 years. His many positions at the Institute include instrument scientist for three Hubble cameras: Wide Field Planetary Camera 2, Advanced Camera for Surveys, and Wide Field Camera 3. He also served as the Imaging Branch Lead for the Instrument Division and as JWST Project Scientist.

Stiavelli has been working on the JWST project since 1996 as a member of the joint STScI-Goddard Space Flight Center conceptual design team. He later became a member of the ad hoc science working group. He is currently an interdisciplinary scientist on the JWST Science Working Group.

His science research focuses on galaxy formation and evolution. He was the project lead for the Hubble Ultra Deep Field survey, the deepest portrait of the visible universe. In his research, Stiavelli has used almost every Hubble instrument, including the first-generation visible-light camera, the Wide Field Planetary Camera.

For additional information about JWST, visit:

http://webbtelescope.org and



Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.

Announcements, Photographs, Webb Mission


Credit: NASA, STScI, and Z. Levay (STScI)