Robert Shelton was recently appointed to the position of President and will lead the organization behind the development of the 24.5 meter Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) which is poised to be the world’s largest astronomical telescope when it comes online early in the next decade. Previously, Robert Shelton assumed the presidency of Research Corporation for Science Advancement following a distinguished career as an experimental condensed-matter physicist focusing on novel materials and their properties. Prior to this position, he held top-level leadership positions in highly ranked, public research universities and in a not-for-profit foundation.
Robert Shelton was educated at Stanford University (B.S., 1970) and the University of California at San Diego (M.S., 1973; Ph.D., 1975) and began his academic career at UC-San Diego as an assistant research physicist in 1975. Moving to Iowa State University in 1978, Shelton was promoted to associate professor in 1981 and professor in 1984. He returned to California as chair of the Department of Physics at UC-Davis in 1987 and served in that capacity until 1990, when he was named vice chancellor for research. In 1996 he joined the President’s Office at the University of California as vice provost for research. In 2001 he assumed the position of executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. On July 1, 2006, Shelton began his appointment as the 19th president of the University of Arizona. On August 1, 2011, Dr. Shelton retired from the University of Arizona presidency to take the position of Executive Director of the Arizona Sports Foundation, an organization dedicated to economic development and philanthropy in the State of Arizona.
While President of The University of Arizona, Dr. Shelton was an active member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA). At the University of Arizona, Shelton also served as co-chair of the NASA Presidential Working Group for the American Association of Universities (AAU). He was a member of the American Association of Universities (AAU) Presidents’ Executive Committee
At UNC Chapel Hill, Shelton was the chief academic officer and chief operating officer and was responsible for the conduct, coordination and quality of the university’s academic and research programs. He served on the Board of Trustees and the Executive Committee of the Research Triangle Institute and on the Board of the Triangle Research Libraries Network and the Triangle Universities Center for Advanced Studies; the Board of Trustees of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics; and was a member of The Space Telescope Institute Council (STIC) for the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), i.e. the Hubble Space Telescope.
In California, Shelton was involved in a wide range of organizations related to the scientific and technical infrastructure of the University of California and the State of California. He served on the Board of the Los Alamos Foundation, the California Institute on Energy Efficiency, the Bay Area Science Infrastructure Consortium, and the California Association for Research in Astronomy (CARA) – the governing board for the Keck Telescope Facility (a group he chaired from 1997 to 2000). He also served on the National Laboratory Coordinating Council, the Technology Transfer Advisory Council, and the Industry-University Collaborative Council. He is a California Science & Technology Fellow.
Shelton was a guest scientist at the Kernforschungsanlage in Jűlich, Germany in the summer of 1981. He was also a visiting professor in the Département de Physique de la Matière Condensée, at the Université de Genève, Geneva, Switzerland during the 1983-84 academic year. He spent six weeks as a guest scientist of the Japanese government, working at the Institute of Metals in Tokyo, Japan. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of Sigma X, and Phi Beta Kappa.
With more than 240 refereed publications, more than 50 invited talks and more than 100 contributed papers at professional meetings; Shelton has been an active and productive scientist whose work has focused on collective electron effects in novel materials. His early work on the interplay of magnetism and superconductivity in rare-earth molybdenum chalcogenides contributed to a resurgent interest in this topic. Later his experimental work focused on high-temperature superconducting copper oxides and novel materials that display colossal magneto-resistive effects or spin-Peierls behavior.
He has served as editor of the Journal of Physics and Chemistry of Solids (Elsevier Press) and a reviewer or referee for the National Science Foundation, the U. S. Department of Energy, Physical Review Letters, The Physical Review B, and other professional journals. He has served as mentor to 24 doctoral students and 6 M.S. students and guided 11 undergraduate students in research projects. One of those undergraduate students received the University of California Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research. In March 2004, he received the coveted Student Advocate Award from the Student Body President at UNC Chapel Hill.
Dr. Shelton and his wife, Adrian A. Shelton, M.S., were undergraduates at Stanford. They have three adult children.