Director and Professor
McDonald Observatory, The University of Texas at Austin
Taft Armandroff serves as the Director of The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory and a Professor in the Department of Astronomy. McDonald Observatory is one of the world’s leading centers for astronomical research, teaching, and public education and outreach. The Observatory operates multiple telescopes undertaking a wide range of frontier astronomical research under the darkest night skies of any observatory in the continental United States, the largest of which is the Hobby-Eberly Telescope with its 10-meter mirror. McDonald Observatory also spearheads The University of Texas at Austin’s partnership in the Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT). Armandroff’s scientific interests include stellar populations in our galaxy and nearby galaxies, dwarf spheroidal galaxies, and globular clusters. He is passionate about advancing scientific discoveries via new telescopes, new instrumentation, and other observatory enhancements both large and small. Armandroff serves on the Boards of Directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. He is currently Vice Chair of the GMT Board.
Prior to arriving at The University of Texas at Austin in June 2014, Armandroff served for eight years as Director of the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. During his leadership, the two 10-meter-diameter Keck telescopes played a key role in many astronomical discoveries enabled by powerful new instrumentation and adaptive optics systems, new support from federal agencies, significant private philanthropic contributions, and expanded institutional partnerships. Prior to his work at Keck, Taft spent nineteen years at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Tucson, Arizona, starting as a postdoctoral research fellow and culminating as a tenured astronomer and NOAO Associate Director. A 1982 graduate of Wesleyan University, Armandroff holds a B.A. in astronomy with high honors. He continued his studies at Yale University, earning an M.S., M. Phil., and Ph.D., all in astronomy.