Beth Willman

LSST Discovery Alliance

Chief Executive Officer

Dr. Beth Willman joined LSST Discovery Alliance on September 7, 2022. She is a leader in the science and management of ground-based astronomy facilities. 

Her 20 years of research accomplishments have utilized wide-field survey datasets that are precursors to the Rubin LSST. Her primary scientific focus has been near-field cosmology, the detailed study of the nearby universe to answer questions such as “How has the universe formed and evolved?” and “What is the nature of dark matter?” Willman led the research team that discovered the first ultra-faint dwarf galaxies (Willman 1 and Ursa Major I), now known to be the most numerous type of galaxy in the Universe.

Willman was the Deputy Director of NOIRLab and the Lab’s Project Director for the US Extremely Large Telescope Program. NOIRLab is the preeminent US national center for ground-based, nighttime optical, and infrared astronomy with a ~$100M annual budget supported by ~500 staff members located in Arizona, Hawai’i, and Chile. Rubin Observatory Operations is part of NOIRLab, along with Gemini Observatory, CTIO/KPNO, and the Community Science and Data Center.

She served as Deputy Director of the Rubin Observatory construction project for three years. As Rubin’s Deputy Director, she convened community-based initiatives in support of LSST science and led the development of Rubin’s operations plan. Prior to her management role at Rubin, she chaired an LSST science collaboration and contributed to the original LSST Science Book released in 2009. 

Willman earned a BS in Astrophysics from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University of Washington and has held prize fellowships at the NYU Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics and the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard-Smithsonian. Willman spent seven years as a faculty member and department chair at Haverford College, during which time she earned multiple teaching awards.