Phil Jewell
Deputy Director, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Director, North American ALMA
Research Professor, Univ. of Virginia, Department of Astronomy

Mailing Address:
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
520 Edgemont Road
Charlottesville, VA
22903-2475 USA

Office: UVA Stone Hall, Room 323

Email: pjewell (at) nrao (dot) edu

Office Phone: 434-296-0330

Executive Assistant:
Sheila Marks
smarks (at) nrao (dot) edu

Research Collaboration:

Education | Professional Interests | Experience | Selected Publications


B.S., Physics, 1977, University of Kentucky

Ph.D., Astronomy, 1982, University of Illinois


I work in an astrochemistry research group that focuses on the detection and study of interstellar molecules of biological significance. This branch of astrobiology explores the prevailing theory that the molecular chemistry of life begins in interstellar clouds, and was transported to the early Earth and likely other planets via comets and meteor impacts. Our group has discovered a number of interstellar molecules that are building blocks for molecules of life. These include the simplest interstellar sugar molecule, glycolaldehyde, a diose sugar in the same chain as the pentose sugar ribose, a constituent of RNA; acetimide, a molecule with a peptide bond essential for the synthesis of proteins, and E-cyanomethanimine, a precursor to the HCN-oligomer adenine, a nucleobase involved in numerous life processes.

I am currently responsible for the operations and development of North American ALMA Operations, including North American responsibilities in Chile. I am NRAO Deputy Director and previously oversaw the daily operations and budget of NRAO's domestic observatories. I am interested in observatory operations, management theory and techniques, instrumentation project management, and in radio and millimeter-wave observing and calibration techniques.


Director, North American ALMA (2013 - present)

Deputy Director, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (2005 - present)

Assistant Director for Green Bank Operations, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (Site Director, Green Bank) (1999 - 2005)

Head of Instrumentation, James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (1996 - 1998)

Deputy Site Director, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Arizona Operations (1986 - 1995)

Scientific Associate, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (1984 - 1985)

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Max-Planck-Institut für Radiostronomie (1982 - 1984)


  1. Jewell, P. R., Hollis, J. M., Lovas, F. J., and Snyder, L. E., 1989, "Millimeter- and Submillimeter-wave Surveys of Orion A Emission Lines in the Ranges 200.7 - 202.3 GHz, 203.7 - 205.3 GHz, and 330 - 360 GHz," Ap. J. Suppl., 70, 833.
  2. Hollis, J. M., Jewell, P. R., and Lovas, F. J., 1995, "Confirmation of Interstellar CH2," Ap. J., 438, 259.
  3. Hollis, J. M., Lovas, F. J., and Jewell, P. R. 2000, "Interstellar Glycolaldehyde, The First Sugar," ApJ Letters, 540, L107.
  4. Hollis, J. M., Lovas, F. J., Jewell, P. R., and Coudert, L. H., 2002, "Interstellar Antifreeze: Ethylene Glycol," ApJ Letters, 571, L59.
  5. Hollis, J. M., Lovas, F. J., Remijan, A. J., Jewell, P. R., Ilyushin, V. V., and Kleiner, I. 2006, "Detection of Acetamide (CH3CONH2): The Largest Interstellar Molecule with a Peptide Bond," ApJ Letters, 643, L25.
  6. Jewell, P. R. 2010, "The Search for Molecules in the Universe," ASP Astronomy Beat, 47, 1.