The High Commissioner to Atomic Energy is an independent scientific authority in France whose mission is to advise the French President and the French government on nuclear policy in all the domains where the CEA (Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique) intervenes.
Catherine Cesarsky, whom the French Council of Ministers appointed to this post on 22 April, is a world-renowned astronomer. She succeeds Bernard Bigot, who became High Commissioner in 2003 and is now CEA Administrator General.
Trained in physics at the University of Buenos Aires, Catherine Cesarsky obtained her Doctorate in Astronomy at Harvard and joined the California Institute of Technology (CalTech) in 1971.
Ms. Cesarsky, who was born in France in 1943, went on to work for the Department of Astrophysics of CEA in 1974. Her research contributed to making the CEA a world leader in infrared and high energy astronomy.
In 1999, she became Director of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the European organization for astronomical research in the southern hemisphere. Under her stewardship, the Mount Paranal Observatory, with its Very Large Telescope (VLT), became one of the leading observatories in the world. In 2006, Catherine Cesarsky became President of the International Astronomical Union.
A member of the French Academy of Science, the Royal Society, and the US National Academy of Sciences, Ms. Cesarsky sits on the Panel for Independent Assessment of ITER Resources Estimates — better known inside ITER as the "Briscoe Panel". She was a participant in the Panel's third meeting held last week in Aix-en-Provence.
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