Director's Views

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Dr. Saran Poshyachinda, Executive Director of NARIT

 

The National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand has a strong commitment to the development of astronomical research and education throughout the country. Its aims are not only to establish the national facility but also to develop astronomical research and education in astronomy in Thailand on the national level from schools to advance research. It promotes and contributes to an understanding of our planet, solar system, all celestial objects and phenomena via research work and education and ensures Thailand will be the vital contributor to development in Astronomy and Astrophysics. NARIT's strength lies in its very nature: a truly public organization powered by highly motivated staff.  Our education and public outreach programmes are designed to inspire younger generations to become explorers in astronomy on research-based technology and to reach out to groups and individuals who have been under-represented in astronomy science enterprise. In this era of knowledge-based society, research has become a crucial tool in addressing the challenges the astronomical community is facing at the frontier of knowledge. Through NARIT, we will be able to set up a collaborative research network both regionally and globally aiming at developing and strengthening knowledge in astronomy, so as to meet international standards. It is a privilege for me to lead such a Research Institute.

 

Organization Development Strategic Plan

2011-2016

Initiatives:  

 

I. Driving Research Performance to Excellence

 

1.  International research performance target    

2.  Research capacity building

3.  Establishment of Research Network inside the country and through out Southeast Asia region

 

II. Supporting and Coordinating Collaboration with External Organization

 

1.  Infrastructures and Astronomical Data Service

2.  Strengthening Astronomical Information System

 

III. Knowledge and Technology Transfer in the field of Astronomy and Public Scientific Awareness Building

 

1.  Well-infomed public via public outreach activities

2.  Public Training courses and workshops

 

IV.  Development of Infrastuctures in the field of Astronomy

 

1.  National astronomical observatory construction

2.  Regional astronomical observatories construction

3.  Infrastuctures administrative management system

 

On Research in Astronomy and Astrophysics

 

Quite a lot of people ask: Is it possible to justify research in astronomy and astrophysics which, strictly speaking, may be considered as fundamental research, in a country like Thailand? What does research in this "expensive" field have to do with the development of the country?

 

It is the nature of fundamental research that we cannot predict what will come of this work, except that we probably will be surprised. Research in astronomy has been a cornerstone of technological progress throughout history. Radio astronomy research led the development of low-noise radio receivers that made possible the satellite communications industry. Image-processing techniques developed by astronomers now are part of the medical imaging systems that allow non-invasive examination of patients' internal organs. At today's observatories, the needs of astronomers for better instruments continue to drive developments in such diverse fields as electronics, mechanical engineering, and computer science. The VLA, the VLBA, the ELT and the EELT are the product emerging from the demands of astronomers and astrophysicists doing fundamental research in astronomy seeking the answer for the question about the nature of the universe ? considered as one of the biggest question humans beings ever asked.

 

Thailand is of no exception. If we want to keep pace with human knowledge and progress to be able to communicate with worldwide astronomy community to enrich the country?s intellectual lives, we must justify research in astronomy and astrophysics to cope with the developed world.

 

On Astronomy Education

 

Astronomy has a wide educational and cultural significance. Astronomy education affects the recruitment and training of future astronomers. It also affects the awareness, understanding and appreciation of astronomy by the public. Astronomy also helps to advance physics and the other sciences by providing a cosmic laboratory with extreme environments. Regretably, astronomy is still the poor cousin in the  science curriculum at all levels in our country.

 

The two most important problems occured in astronomy  education throughout our country are:

- scientific illiteracy among the public and students.

- a lack of personnel, knowledge, learning materials and teaching techniques in astronomy.

 

In order to get rid of these problems, we should set up a project on the national level which includes curriculum developmentm diatance learning in astronomy, certifid teacher training programmes, school and teacher networks, and promoting gifted and talented students in astronomy.

 

Realizing that learning science outside school is one of the best ways to discover and to be inspired by xcience. We should also aim to promote astronomy in informal learning and give academic advice in astronomy to other science museums and planetarium, as well as to amateur astronomers and astronomy clubs and societies nationwide.