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Project Information

Project Information

Astro2020: Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation

Project Scope:

Project Description:
The Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation will identify and articulate the scientific themes that will define the frontier in research of the interstellar medium and the formation of stars and planets in the 2022-2032 decade. Its scope will include the interstellar medium in the Milky Way, other relevant aspects of Milky Way science, star formation, astrochemistry, interstellar plasmas and magnetohydrodynamic phenomena, protoplanetary disks and debris disks, and planet formation as well as the interstellar medium and star formation in nearby galaxies.

Overall Project Statement of Task:
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shall convene an ad hoc survey committee and supporting study panels to carry out a decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics. The study will generate consensus recommendations to implement a comprehensive strategy and vision for a decade of transformative science at the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics. The committee, with inputs from study panels covering the breadth of astronomy and astrophysics, will carry out the following tasks:

  1. Provide an overview of the current state of astronomy and astrophysics science, and technology research in support of that science, with connections to other scientific areas where appropriate;
  2. Identify the most compelling science challenges and frontiers in astronomy and astrophysics, which shall motivate the committee’s strategy for the future;
  3. Develop a comprehensive research strategy to advance the frontiers of astronomy and astrophysics for the period 2022-2032 that will include identifying, recommending, and ranking the highest priority research activities — taking into account for each activity the scientific case, international and private landscape, timing, cost category and cost risk, as well as technical readiness, technical risk, and opportunities for partnerships.  The strategy should be balanced, by considering large, medium, and small activities for both ground and space. (Activities include any project, telescope, facility, experiment, mission, or research program of sufficient scope to be identified separately in the final report.) For each recommended activity the committee will lay out the principal science objectives and activity capabilities, including assumed or recommended activity lifetime, where possible;
  4. Utilize and recommend decision rules, where appropriate, for the comprehensive research strategy that can accommodate significant but reasonable deviations in the projected budget or changes in urgency precipitated by new discoveries or unanticipated competitive activities;
  5.  Assess the state of the profession, using information available externally and, if necessary, data gathered by the study itself, including workforce and demographic issues in the field. Identify areas of concern and importance to the community raised by this assessment in service of the future vitality and capability of the astronomy and astrophysics work force. Where possible, provide specific, actionable and practical recommendations to the agencies and community to address these areas. This report shall be made available following the completion of the study.


Status: Current


Project Duration (months): 24 month(s)

RSO: Sheffer, Abigail


Engineering and Technology
Math, Chemistry, and Physics
Space and Aeronautics
Policy for Science and Technology

Geographic Focus:

Committee Membership

Committee Post Date: 08/16/2019

Lee W. Hartmann - (Chair)
LEE W. HARTMANN is the Leo Goldberg Collegiate professor of Astronomy at the University of Michigan. He has worked as an astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and was a vice-president of the American Astronomical Society. Dr. Hartmann’s research interests include the formation of stars and star clusters, molecular cloud structure and dynamics, protostellar accretion, evolution of protoplanetary disks and planet formation, and mass function of stars. Dr. Hartmann is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Wisconsin System. Dr. Hartmann has served on three Academies’ committees including: chair of the Astro2010 Panel on Planetary Systems and Star Formation, member of the U.S. National Committee for the International Astronomical Union, and member of the Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Sean M. Andrews
SEAN M. ANDREWS is an astrophysicist with the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) and lecturer on astronomy at Harvard University at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Prior to that he was a Hubble Fellow at SAO. Sean does research on planet formation in the disks of gas and dust that orbit around young stars, primarily using radio interferometer data. In 2010 and 2017, he was awarded the Secretary’s Research Prize by the Smithsonian Institution. Sean is the principal investigator of the Disk Substructures at High Angular Resolution Project (DSHARP) an Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) Large Program. He received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Hawaii. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Philip J. Armitage
PHILIP J. ARMITAGE is a professor at Stony Brook University in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. He is also a group leader at the Center for Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute. Prior to his current position, he did postdoctoral work at the University of Toronto’s Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics and at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Munich, Germany. He is interested in understanding the physical processes involved in the formation of planetary systems, including the role of two-fluid instabilities in forming the first analogs of asteroids and comets, and the importance of radiation hydrodynamic effects in the accretion of planetary envelopes. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, Institute of Astronomy. He has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Bruce T. Draine
BRUCE DRAINE (NAS) is a professor of astrophysical sciences at Princeton University. After serving for two years in the Peace Corps, teaching physics and math in Ghana, he went to Cornell University. Draine has computed models for interstellar dust-grain properties, proposed a solution to the problem of the polarization of starlight by dust, showed that emissions from spinning grains is an important foreground to the cosmic background radiation, and discovered a new kind of interstellar shock wave. His work has created important models to interpret some of the processes that occur in interstellar space. Draine was a member of the Spitzer Infrared Nearby Galaxy Survey (SINGS), a Spitzer Space Telescope Legacy project which studied a sample of 75 nearby galaxies, and a member of the KINGFISH collaboration, a Herschel Key Project using Herschel Space Telescope (a 3.5m telescope in space with a cryogenic focal plane) to study 61 nearby (d < 30 Mpc) galaxies using both far-infrared imaging and spectroscopy. Draine received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University. He served on the Astro2010 Panel on the Galactic Neighborhood.
Kaitlin M. Kratter
KAITLIN KRATTER is associate professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona. She has been a Hubble Fellow at the University of Colorado and an Institute for Theory and Computation Fellow at Harvard University. Her research focuses on the formation and evolution of stellar and planetary systems. Kratter employs analytic and computational techniques to tackle topics including accretion disk dynamics, binary formation, few body dynamics, and planet-disk interactions. Kratter was awarded the Stromlo Distinguished Visitorship at Stromlo Observatory and was visiting scientist at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics. She received her Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Toronto. She has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Karin M. Sandstrom
KARIN M. SANDSTROM is assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of California, San Diego. She specializes in multiwavelength studies of the interstellar medium (ISM) in nearby galaxies. Her interests include ISM phases; heating and cooling of gas and dust; feedback from stellar populations; and chemical enrichment. She has been awarded observing time as principal investigator on numerous telescopes including the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), the Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO), the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) and the Very Large Array (VLA). Sandstrom received her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Snezana Stanimirovic
SNEZANA STANIMIROVIC is professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She moved to Madison after working as a research associate in the Radio Astronomy Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. Before Berkeley, she spent three years on the island of Puerto Rico, working at the Arecibo Observatory. Her research interests include mapping neutral hydrogen in and around the Milky Way, statistical investigation of the interstellar medium, and star formation, magnetic fields, and diffuse matter in the galaxy. She was awarded the NSF Career Award in 2010, became a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Guggenheim Fellow. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Western Sydney, jointly supervised by the Australia Telescope National Facilities. She has not previously served on an Academies’ committee.
Ellen G. Zweibel
ELLEN G. ZWEIBEL is the W. L. Kraushaar Professor of Astronomy and Physics, and the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and past director of the Center for Magnetic Self-Organization. Prior to joining the University of Wisconsin Madison, she was a faculty member at the University of Colorado. Her research interests and expertise include theoretical astrophysics with a specialty in plasma astrophysics. Zweibel received numerous awards including being elected as a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Physical Society’s Maxwell Prize for Plasma Physics. She received her Ph.D. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University. She has served on the Space Studies Board and on many Academies’ committees.



Keck Center
500 5th St NW, Washington, DC 20001
Event Type :  

Description :   

Astro2020: Panel on the Interstellar Medium and Star and Planet Formation Meeting One

Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics 2020 (ASTRO2020)

This meeting will be closed in its entirety.

The panel will review Astro2020 Science white paper submissions.

Registration for Online Attendance :   

Registration for in Person Attendance :   

If you would like to attend the sessions of this event that are open to the public or need more information please contact

Contact Name:  Linda Walker
Contact Email:
Contact Phone:  (202) 334-3477

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