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UH Hilo astronomy professor to join Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center project

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Date: Thursday, May 2, 2002
Contact: George Jacob (808) 933-3917

For Immediate Release

Dr. Michael West

A University of Hawai`i at Hilo astronomy professor has joined the planning team of the Mauna Kea Astronomy Education Center (MKAEC) to oversee astronomy content development, announced MKAEC Project Director George Jacob.

Dr. Michael West joined MKAEC on May 1, 2002 on a half-time basis to work on the interpretive planning process. West will also continue in his capacity as associate professor of astronomy at UH Hilo. "I'm very excited by this opportunity, as we have the potential to create the premier astronomy education center in the world," said West.

West brings 15 years of experience as both an educator and a researcher to MKAEC. He received his PhD in astronomy from Yale University in 1987, and has held teaching and research positions in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Africa prior to coming to UH Hilo in 1999. He frequently uses the telescopes on Mauna Kea in his research, as well as Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories around the world. Additionally, West serves on the board of directors of the Canadian Astronomical Society and the Telescope Time Allocation Committee of the University of Hawai`i.

West will oversee a panel of distinguished astronomers, interpretive planners and research assistants who will formulate the astronomy content to be showcased by MKAEC. This Astronomy Content Panel will also work in partnership with MKAEC's Hawaiian Content Panel headed by Larry Kimura, UH Hilo assistant professor of Hawaiian and Hawaiian studies. "The same spirit of discovery that inspired the original Polynesian settlers of these Hawaiian islands to set sail for new horizons is what motivates astronomers today in their search for new stars, new galaxies and new worlds. It's a spiritual quest to find our place in the universe," said West.

The MKAEC is a $28 million premier interpretive center being planned at UH Hilo on a 9.1 acre lot at the University Science and Technology Park. For more information, please contact Jacob at (808) 933-3917.

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