Carl Pilcher, 59, a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) scientist and administrator, will be the new director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) starting September 18. One of his major challenges will be dealing with the 50% cut in the agency's proposed budget, which has cast a shadow on the future of the institute's programs."It is very important that our new director be aware of the Washington DC arena," David Des Marais, senior scientist at NASA Ames, told The Scientist. "With his scientific background and administrative experience, Carl is really the optimal choice." "Carl has had excellent experience of doing his own research and has extensive experience at NASA headquarters," echoed Nobel Laureate Baruch Blumberg, NAI's first director. "He has the personality and talent to get things done and deal effectively with other people. I think he's a great choice."Since NAI's inception in 1997...

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