Get to Know Gemini! John Blakeslee

Get to Know Gemini is a new series of blog posts aimed to highlight the different careers, backgrounds, and types of people contributing to Gemini Observatory and its science.

Name:  John Blakeslee

What is your current position and at which telescope?

Chief Scientist, based at Gemini South

In four lines or less, explain what you do as part of the Gemini Observatory team?

I help with the long-term scientific planning for the Observatory, evaluate proposals for Director’s Discretionary time, write the Science Highlights for Gemini Focus magazine, act as science editor for Gemini web publications, prepare science reports for the Observatory governance committees, manage the research budget, and generally try to support science-related endeavors of the Gemini staff.

How long have you worked for Gemini?

9 months

What drew you to this job?

The opportunity to work with a dedicated staff at one of the world’s leading astronomical observatories.

What is the best part of your job?

Talking to members of the science staff (especially the young ones) about their research, proposals, career plans, and things along those lines.

Where are you originally from/where did you grow up?

Southeastern Pennsylvania

What skill do you think is most important to know for your job?

When an email doesn’t require an answer.

Why is astronomy important?

It’s the study of the universe, and we wouldn’t be here without the universe.  Plus, it provides some perspective for our species.

In three lines, explain your PhD thesis.

I developed a method to study the rich globular star cluster populations in the centers of galaxy clusters without directly detecting most of them. I found that the number of globulars scaled with the dark matter halo mass, a result that has pretty much held up and has been extended to more typical galaxies.

What are your current research interests?

The structure of massive galaxies, late stages of stellar evolution, precision distances and cosmology, making Gemini even more efficient at transient follow-up in the era of time-domain astronomy.

What is your favorite movie?

Kamome Shokudo

What is the latest book you have read?

The Moviegoer, by Walker Percy

What is one hobby of yours?


Favorite beverage?

Agua con gas

Check back next month to learn more about the staff that help Gemini to explore the Universe and share its wonders!

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